Habitat for Humanity, FEMA housing Ian victims in Heritage Heights

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Habitat for Humanity is collaborating with FEMA to offer temporary housing for survivors of Hurricane Ian in the Heritage Heights housing development.

Harlem Heights, where the Heritage Heights development is located, was a mess after Ian’s storm surge washed in on Sept. 28. Cars floated, and water flooded all the way up to the roofs of homes. Many families remain displaced by this destruction.

In search of available land to build a temporary housing community, FEMA reached out to Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties about a land-lease agreement. They are leasing a portion of undeveloped property within phase two of the Heritage Heights development.

ā€œWhile this is a short-term solution, our property is truly a gift to those who remain displaced following the hurricane, and we are grateful for the opportunity to support them through FEMA,ā€ wrote Becky Lucas, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, in a press release.

The site will include a separate road to access housing units for 58 families. FEMA will be able to provide and maintain temporary housing on Habitat’s property until families can safely return home.

On Monday morning at 8 a.m., Habitat for Humanity held a land dedication ceremony to mark the launch of this unique collaboration.

Praying and blessing the ground before building starts is a tradition at Habitat for Humanity, though this project is unique.

“This means that they’re hopefully going to have a safe place that they can call home, as opposed to a hotel room, and continue to work on their primary home, their damaged dwelling to get to their level recovery,” said Bob Fogel, a FEMA deputy federal coordinating officer. “We like to keep families as close as possible to their church, to their schools, to their jobs, to their local community support structure because that helps them with the rest of their personal… you know, from mental health to work health to community support and engagement to help them with the recovery.”

“We’re excited that once the families are in who have been identified by FEMA, then we can extend our services, our home repair as well as our homeownership services for families to recover from the storm,” Lucas said.

The Army Corp of Engineers is expected to build the site in just 60 days.

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