We're happy with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision to extend its temporary housing program in Minot, but we're concerned with plans by FEMA to begin charging displaced residents rent to continue to live in the temporary housing units past Jan. 1, 2013.
The housing program was set to expire Dec. 24, but FEMA?agreed to extend the deadline until June 24, 2013. That's good news for Minot residents who were displaced by the historic Souris River flood of 2011. There are still some 1,200 temporary housing units in use in Ward County, and the extension will allow some residents precious extra time to find permanent solutions to their housing situations.
But in announcing the extension, FEMA?officials also said the agency would begin charging rent for the temporary homes, beginning Jan. 1, 2013. FEMA said two-bedroom units would be priced at $686 a month, with three-bedroom units priced at $947 per month. People who cannot afford the rent can appeal to FEMA, and those living in FEMA?units will also be given the option to purchase the temporary home. Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the state's congressional delegation immediately said they would push FEMA?to eliminate or reduce the rent charges. We hope they are successful in their efforts.
FEMA must understand that Minot is in something of a unique situation at the moment, with a housing market that was already stressed by the booming oil industry before the flood of 2011 destroyed thousands of homes and apartments. Charging residents living in FEMA units rent won't help those residents get back on their feet and into permanent housing.