FEMA May Order More Homes from Factories for Disaster Relief

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) held an “Industry Day” seminar June 8 concerning production and future use of small disaster-relief homes, called Temporary Housing Units (THUs).  Over fifty industry representatives attended.  The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) says the small housing units, 350 to 550 square feet, could conceivably blur the line between temporary emergency housing, and permanent replacement housing as FEMA mentioned for possible post-disaster use.  MHARR says the small homes are a throwback to the “trailer mentality,” and could once again hinder the use of HUD Code homes as temporary and permanent replacement housing.  MHARR says THUs as permanent housing would enforce the negative imagery of manufactured housing.  They say that following a disaster, THUs should be refurbished and stored for future disaster relief, and not used as replacement housing.  MHARR further says building to HUD Code and to International Residential Code (IRC) would not be cost effective because not all manufacturers build to IRC, thus eliminating them from bidding.  Read the full MHARR statement at FEMA “Small Footprint” HUD Code Temporary Emergency Housing Idea Begins on Wrong Track.

The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) also notes the difficulty in building homes to IRC standards because of various state regulations governing installation, inspection, and transportation of the homes. MHI said the two important challenges are assuring an equitable bid process and meeting air quality standards. It suggested using the regulations set by California’s Air Resources Board Phase I and II as a standard, and methods must be made to control air quality during times of storage for the THUs.  MHI suggests FEMA design a THU compatible with other single-family manufactured homes that community owners might want to purchase later on.  Read the full MHI statement at Consensus Recommendations of the MHI Disaster Housing Task Force June 3 2011.

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