FEMA graphic

Mosswood Estates, a gated community in Sulphur, recently entered into a contract with FEMA to temporarily house up to 300 Southwest Louisiana households impacted by Hurricanes Laura and Delta. It’s the first local company to start housing residents after the hurricanes through FEMA’s Direct Lease Program, an agency official said Tuesday.

Gerard Hammink, FEMA media relations specialist, said 19 of the roughly 40 housing units currently available at Mosswood are already occupied. Background checks on nearly 20 households are pending, he said.

The Direct Lease Program allows FEMA to lease existing “ready-to-occupy” residential property from qualified management companies, including corporate apartments. Rent is based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Market Rent. Lease agreements last for 18 months from the time a disaster is declared, with an option to extend.

Mosswood Estates is working to repair additional housing units damaged by the hurricanes, Hammink said. FEMA will inspect the repaired units before leasing them. More units at Mosswood should be ready to occupy over the next 90 days, he said.

So far, FEMA has identified roughly 200 households as potential candidates for temporary housing through the Direct Lease Program, Hammink said. Priority will be given to residents whose private property isn’t eligible to have a FEMA housing unit installed.

Getting displaced residents into a temporary home doesn’t happen overnight, Hammink said. However, the process requires less work than setting up a FEMA trailer or mobile home on private property.

“We’re working with Mosswood to get as many units opened up as quickly as possible,” he said. “We certainly understand that repairs take time and setting up things takes time. Many of these units are in good shape. It’s still a process.”

Having applicants fill out a background check and getting it processed is a major step in placing residents inside a temporary home, Hammink said.

“We always urge applicants to answer their phone, return phone calls and get various steps taken care of so they can get the keys,” he said.

As of Tuesday, 718 households in Louisiana are living in FEMA units, including RVs, travel trailers and mobile homes, Hammink said. He said FEMA is working to house “upwards of 3,000 households.”

“We’re tackling that by renting and leasing pads at existing RV/mobile home parks all over the area and by leasing these units at Mosswood,” he said. “Right now, FEMA has leased pads at more than 20 commercial parks in Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes.

 We may have eight pads at one park and 20 pads at another. It all adds up to quite a few in the end.”

Hammink said FEMA is also in the planning stages to develop “group sites,” where hundreds of mobile homes can be installed on commercial properties.

Property management companies wanting to participate in FEMA’s Direct Lease Program or the Multifamily Lease and Repair Program should visit beta.sam.gov or email

marvin.r.jennings@fema.dhs.gov.

Officials with Mosswood Estates could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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