FEMA to start collecting rent for temporary housing program

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro
Published: Updated:

For 16 months, those affected by Hurricane Ian have relied on FEMA’s direct temporary housing program for a place to live.

Last week, FEMA announced a 6-month extension of the Direct Temporary Housing program through Sept. 29 for eligible households.

Karen Coburn is one of those in need of temporary housing after Hurricane Ian took everything away from her, including the home where she raised her children.

“I cried the day they finally came with the bulldozer and took it all down. I lost so much mentally that day,” said Coburn.

Nearly a year after Hurricane Ian, Coburn was able to move into a two-bedroom temporary home.

Coburn’s temporary home gave her and her family 6 months to catch their breath before FEMA’s March deadline to find a new home.

“It’s not much, but it’s ours,” said Coburn. “For now, anyway.”

A FEMA agent knocked on Coburn’s door Sunday morning, letting her know of the 6-month extension brought another sign of relief until she read the fine print: Rent begins on March 29.

“I have no problem with paying rent. I don’t expect to live anywhere for free,” said Coburn. “But the amount that they put on the paper for me is way beyond my means.”

According to FEMA, rental rates will vary based on the size and location of the temporary housing unit but will not exceed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s fair market rate.

The rent FEMA is asking Coburn for would leave her with $80 a month to live off of.

Coburn is now trying to appeal for a lower rent with FEMA.

“We’ve gained another six months of peace because, come heck or high water, I will figure out how to pay because my boy is not going to be out on the street,” she said.

Coburn has always told her kids, “As long as I have a roof over my head, you’ll have one too.”

Coburn’s ultimate goal is to rebuild on the same lot she and her children grew up in.

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