Posts Tagged ‘Jason Chaffetz’

Update: Manufacturers Must Turn Over Documents in FEMA Case

March 23rd, 2017 Comments off

FEMA Units in Leo’s Manufactured Home Community, where Everett Wilson died. Credit: The Advocate.

In a follow up to a story the Daily Business News originally covered last month, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR), led by chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), has ordered two home manufacturers to turn over documents related to the Louisiana floods, as it investigates the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) response to the disaster.

According to The Advocate, Chaffetz said that the two companies — Lexington Homes Inc. and Scotbilt Homes, Inc. — provided many of the FEMA units after the floods, and had especially high rates of maintenance complaints.

A key component in the investigation is the death of 84-year-old Baton Rouge resident Everett Wilson, who died in his temporary FEMA home on October 25th from overheating.

When authorities inspected the (unit), they discovered temperatures over 137.5 degrees Fahrenheit with the air conditioning and heating control unit reading 50 degrees Fahrenheit,” wrote Chaffetz in his February letter.


Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Official Photo.

In addition to the death of Wilson, the letter also points out other issues, including FEMA sending a housing unit to a dead person’s address, delivery of a housing unit to the wrong address, and temporary housing units that were unused and cost as much as $340,000.

The cap for assistance under federal law is $33,000.

FEMA failed to fix many of the problems discussed at a September, 2016, HOGR hearing, such as the agency’s poor communication and failure to properly distribute assistance funds to survivors,” wrote Chaffetz.


Garret Graves. Credit: Google.

Congressman Garret Graves has also been an outspoken critic of the FEMA responses to the floods, citing slow and sloppy deployment of FEMA units.

It’s amazing the number of calls we still get every day — seven months after the flood — from people still in need of a trailer [sic] or looking for answers about why it’s taking so long for theirs to get delivered or wired,” said Graves.

Many of these people have homes that have literally been condemned, but FEMA won’t or ‘can’t’ authorize a trailer [sic] it’s ridiculous. The soup to nuts cost of the (manufactured housing unit) operation is exorbitant, and taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth.

Dale Gilliland, General Manager of ScotBilt, defended the company in its actions.

Ours were not connected to Wilson’s death, and we had not heard about any complaints until we received Rep. Chaffetz’s letter Tuesday,” said Gilliland.

We contacted FEMA and we were told the agency hasn’t yet fully investigated the complaints or possible defects with mobile homes [sic].”

In an interesting twist, Gilliland said that FEMA told him “the thought that ScotBilt’s quality is sub-par compared to other vendors is (an) unfair and possibly inaccurate assumption at this point.

FEMA would neither confirm nor deny this quote.


A family looks at the remains of their home after the Louisiana floods. Credit: NOLA.

FEMA is complying with the oversight committee’s document requests,” said FEMA Deputy Director Eileen Lainez.

When asked if FEMA has made any changes to its programs in light of the floods, Lainez provided this response:

FEMA is always evaluating the effectiveness of our programs and taking steps to continuously improve coordination, to ensure that survivors affected by disasters are returned to homes that are safe, secure, and functional, as soon as possible,” said Lainez.

For Graves, disappointment in FEMA is still front and center.

These inefficiencies are more than frustrating — they’re wrong. They add insult to injury and re-victimize honest people whose lives have already been flipped upside down,” said Graves.

For more on FEMA, including former director Craig Fugate’s comments on what the next FEMA leader will need, click here. ##


(Image credits are as shown above.)



RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

As Deadline Looms, FEMA Wants Money

March 13th, 2017 Comments off

A FEMA home in Calaveras County. Credit: Calaveras Enterprise

In Calaveras County, California, the Butte Fire had a significant impact on the area, putting a number of area residents into temporary Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) housing.

Eighteen months later, some residents are still in their FEMA homes, looking for permanent housing. And now, FEMA says they are out of time.

According to the Calaveras Enterprise, the families will have to make the decision on whether or not they want to continue to stay in the homes or pack up and move, as the 18-month housing assistance deadline is coming up later this month.

The initial deadline, March 22, was extended via a state request to Sept. 22 for homeowners who have struggled to find permanent housing. However, during that period, homeowners are required to pay rent based at fair market value for each unit,” said Kelly Hudson, a FEMA spokeswoman for the region.

For resident Camille Green, the news is particularly difficult given her circumstances due to the fire.

Total wipeout, completely wiped out,” said Green. “Everything, completely everything. I didn’t even get my birth certificate out. Just grabbed anything with a heartbeat.

And that makes the news from FEMA hard to swallow. Green relies on social security and has limited room for things like moving in her budget.

It’s almost two years later and I’m still in a FEMA village,” said Green. “They are basically saying pay or get out.


The location of the Butte Fire. Credit: Wikipedia.

Resident Barbara Zelmer lives near Green and faces a similar situation, including healthcare and rebuilding costs for her lost home.

If I pay rent here, it’s going to put me on a deficit,” said Zelmer. “It’s going to put me in debt. If I have to pay rent here, I won’t be able to rebuild.

If I use the money I have and put it toward rebuilding (the money I received from the government) or if I use that toward rent, I’ll be rendered homeless either way if I don’t do something,” said Zelmer.

Green says that, as an owner, the idea of paying rent does not make sense.

I have to pay those land taxes no matter what I’m at,” said Green. “I don’t have the funds to pay for my land out there and stay somewhere else.

Green is considering getting a simple home and putting it on her land.

I’m stuck between a rock and a harder place. I can get along. I can haul water there, but I’m getting older and I’m not in good health, so at this point, I cannot get out there and take care of myself properly.

Zelmer agrees, and says that living in a FEMA unit isn’t high on her list of things to do.

To pay $800-or-something a month when I own my land?” asked Zelmer.

I shouldn’t have to pay rent; I’m an owner. I just need help getting home.


A home damaged during the Butte Fire. Credit: Calaveras Enterprise.

Even with the challenges, both Green and Zelmer are hopeful that they will be out of the FEMA homes and back onto their land, with newly built homes, well before the FEMA deadline.

We want to go home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have this place, but as you can see, it’s not very homey, and I did that on purpose; it’s temporary housing,” said Green.

The land still calls me and I will go home, and I will have a good life there. But as I look out across the valleys, my property is forever changed, no way to get around that.


Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Official Photo.

For more on the challenges that FEMA faces in delivering services, including the case of House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR) chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) demanding answers after discovering a slew of problems with FEMA’s use of post-disaster temporary housing in Louisiana, click here. ##


(Image credits are as shown above.)



RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.