Hurricane Laura

Downed electric poles line the streets of Lake Charles Aug. 28, 2020, the day after Hurricane Laura struck the area.

In a letter to FEMA on Tuesday, Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter complimented the recent work of the agency for their implementation of a “Direct Lease Program” for residents awaiting temporary housing. Hunter said the program indicates positive progress on finding housing solutions for residents displaced from last year’s storms.

“These efforts and the overall work of your dedicated staff have expedited the proposed timeline for full temporary housing implementation. Instead of a September 2021 timeline, we now believe it is possible for a June or July 2021 timeline for all approved FEMA applicants to be housed,” the letter read.

Hunter said the Direct Lease Program allows FEMA to contract directly with landlords and the agency will pay the rent for hurricane survivors.

While the program is not necessarily new, Hunter said, there’s been a recent “more robust response from local property owners” interested in participating.

“It could simply be more properties coming back online,” he said.

FEMA is likewise happy with local landlord response, he added.

“They have told me that they are very pleased with the response they have received. It has really picked up in recent weeks, which has allowed the traction and speed to pick up as well.”

Hunter concluded the letter stating the overall timeline for FEMA’s response “still leaves much to be improved upon” but this week’s news is certainly “encouraging.” He also reiterated his appreciation for local FEMA employees, describing their work as “absolutely stellar.”

The city plans to host a Zoom meeting next week to discuss the Direct Lease Program with FEMA representatives and local landlords. More details are to come, Hunter said.

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