The boxy, white temporary housing units that became a common sight after last summer's flood could become a fixture of the new Minot.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said in Minot this week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is drafting a policy that would enable the agency to donate units to the city or a nonprofit agency or sell to low-income individuals. FEMA would not be donating or selling any units until its housing mission is complete. The mission is set to expire in December, but the governor has asked for an extension to June 2013.
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.
According to Hoeven's office, FEMA anticipates that about 500 households still might not have permanent housing by next June.
The details of how agencies or people might get access to available units or how many units will be available will be based on the policy that FEMA drafts. It is expected that there will be a need to move units to new sites once sold or donated. Existing units are located on property belonging to the City of Burlington, on property in Minot's agricultural park and on privately owned property, as well as a number of units in private yards or in mobile home parks.
Any nonprofit agency that decides to obtain some of the units also may have options for putting them to use. The agency could lease or sell the units as low-income housing. Individuals purchasing any units would need to meet low-income guidelines, but whether they would need to be flood victims will depend on the policy.
Tom Pearson, director of Minot Housing Authority, said he only recently learned of the potential for obtaining units so cannot say what the authority's response might be. He said the authority would have to consider a number of issues in determining whether it might be able to use units.
David Waind, city manager, said the city would not want to be in the business of operating housing, but it certainly would welcome the opportunity for residents to purchase the units.