Gov. Jack Dalrymple has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a six-month extension of the temporary housing program provided to Minot-area residents who were displaced by last year's flood.
FEMA's temporary housing mission in Minot is set to end Dec. 24, 2012. Dalrymple is requesting an extension that would allow FEMA's temporary housing units to remain through June 24, 2013.
Dan Alexander, FEMA disaster recovery coordinator, Denver, said in Minot Thursday that FEMA has granted extensions in past disasters. In Minot's case, despite great strides in recovery, lack of availability of adequate and affordable housing is a concern, he said.
Jill Schramm/MDN • A community of FEMA units remained at Virgil Workman Village east of Minot in June, a year after the flood.
"That is the reality of what we are dealing with. It does slow down the ability to get people transitioned," he said.
As of Aug. 1, there were about 1,200 FEMA units still occupied, down by about 1,000 from the peak. Of households occupying the units, about 70 percent owned homes that flooded while the remainder were renting. Numbers are higher than FEMA had projected for more than a year after the disaster, Alexander said.
"Especially over the last month or two, we don't have as many folks transitioning out as we were hoping," he said.
Many residents still are waiting for homes to be repaired or are waiting to see what might happen in the Minot area long term, Alexander said.
The option of allowing people to buy their FEMA units is one that the federal government has offered in the past, but the situation in the Minot area is not to the point where that is being considered at this time, Alexander said.
He said the details associated with purchasing a FEMA unit become a lot of work for residents so it's not an area where FEMA has seen much interest in the past. Units still would have to be moved from their existing sites.
FEMA staff continue to work with the city, local agencies and residents of the FEMA units to help identify housing and determine when additional housing will be coming on line, Alexander said. FEMA has been assisting in surveying unit residents about their housing needs and in partnering with the city and Housing and Urban Development to sponsor a housing forum for developers.
Dalrymple sent a letter requesting the extension to FEMA Regional Director Robin Finegan on Wednesday. The request will be reviewed on the regional level before going to national headquarters for the final decision. Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Congressman Rick Berg, R-N.D., have given their support for the governor's request.