Residents remaining in temporary housing units next January will be charged rent under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's housing program rules.
The governor and congressional delegation said they will seek a waiver of the rent requirement even as they welcomed the agency's formal approval of the extension of its temporary housing mission.
FEMA announced Wednesday the extension of its temporary housing mission in Minot and Burlington to June 24, 2013. FEMA initiated the mission in response to the 2011 Souris Valley flooding.
As part of FEMA's agreement with the state to extend the housing mission, FEMA will begin to implement a sales and donation program for occupied units. FEMA will contact eligible disaster survivors directly to offer the opportunity to buy their current units at an adjusted fair market value.
"This extension will allow additional time for displaced Souris Valley residents to make repairs and return to their permanent homes, find a new home in the area or purchase the unit which they are occupying," said Dan Alexander, FEMA federal disaster recovery coordinator. "Our focus has always been on the recovery of those impacted by the disaster. Our program provides temporary housing while the state and local governments are able to develop permanent housing solutions for the community."
In accordance with FEMA housing program rules and regulations, those living in FEMA temporary housing units will be charged monthly rent beginning Jan. 1, 2013. Rental rates will vary based on the size of the temporary housing unit but will never exceed the Department of Housing and Urban Development's fair market rate. Residents will receive more information specific to their individual situation the next time they are visited by their FEMA housing recertification specialist.
According to the congressional delegation, FEMA's initial plans are to begin charging rent of $686 for two-bedroom units and $947 for three-bedroom units. The agency indicated that the rental estimates reflect 2012 rates and could be adjusted upward for 2013. Occupants who can't afford the rent can appeal to FEMA for a rent adjustment.
The governor and congressional delegation said that in light of the severity of last year's flooding and the burden of an extensive recovery, they will press FEMA to reduce significantly or eliminate entirely the rental fee requirement. At the same time, they said they will urge the agency to propose realistic and affordable terms for sales when the housing units become available for purchase.
Currently, there are about 1,200 housing units in use in Ward County. A total of more than 2,000 units have been occupied at one time or another.
FEMA has provided more the $90 million in assistance directly to Souris Valley residents for rental assistance or to make repairs to their damaged dwellings. FEMA also works closely with voluntary agencies, providing technical support for the Hope Village volunteer center and helping to organize the numerous agencies that are providing disaster relief.