Actually, what FEMA does is the conundrum. I just liked the alliteration.
The T-P asks, “Where would you rather live?” Your choices: a “Katrina Cottage” or a temporary trailer.
Obviously, a resident would want to live in the safer and homier Katrina Cottage. And, you would think that FEMA would want that resident to live in the safer and *cheaper* of the two:
FEMA is spending about $75,000 to deliver and install each of the 23- to 28-foot trailers for storm victims. A Katrina Cottage can be set up for less than $60,000, manufacturers say.Some have already extolled how well the Katrina Cottage satisfies our current housing need.
And with hurricane season fast approaching, many worry about the ability of FEMA trailers to weather storms. The Katrina Cottage, which under one model would be made of concrete and steel, would be a far safer structure.
But, FEMA always has an excuse as to why they are powerless to do the right thing:
The 1974 Stafford Act, which governs the assistance FEMA offers in the wake of disasters, prevents the agency from spending money on permanent residential construction.Katrina Cottages can be converted into permanent housing. They don’t have to be. But, they can be, so FEMA says they can’t use them.
However, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (pdf), which amended the Stafford Act, does specify a situation when the federal government can provide permanent housing:
The President may provide financial assistance or direct assistance to individuals or households to construct permanent housing in insular areas outside the continental United States and in other remote locations in cases in which-- (A) no alternative housing resources are available; and (B) the types of temporary housing assistance described in paragraph (1) are unavailable, infeasible, or not cost-effective.This “plain English” explanation of the amendment definitely makes the Katrina Cottage the clear choice for FEMA:
[The amendment] Explicitly authorizes standing FEMA policy to build permanent housing structures when it is not reasonable or cost-effective to import direct housing units (i.e. Mobile Homes and Travel Trailers).So, the only reason FEMA can’t provide permanent housing to New Orleans is that pesky geographical requirement of being “in insular areas outside the continental United States and in other remote locations.” Of course, if we accept Bush’s continuing reference to the Gulf Coast as “that part of the world,” then we are *not* part of the USA.
Conundrum solved. Let the Katrina Cottages commence.