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FEMA works toward permanent housing to displaced homeowners as Direct Housing draws near

Kevin Boyer
Washington County News

WASHINGTON COUNTY - FEMA, the state, local officials and nonprofit organizations continue to work with hundreds of households displaced from their homes after Hurricane Michael. FEMA is currently providing temporary housing units for about 500 families. FEMA and its partners have helped more than 400 families achieve a more permanent housing solution.

However, FEMA has announced the Direct Housing program ends April 11. Thereafter, FEMA will collect monthly rent and possible fees if occupants continue to live in their FEMA-provided temporary housing unit(s).

Following 2018’s Hurricane Michael, the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the contiguous United States since Andrew in 1992. Approximately 3 million acres of timber was damaged or destroyed statewide, costing an estimated $1.3 billion. Total agricultural loss statewide were at $1.49 billion, while property loss reached almost $5 billion. Insurance claims totaled $5.53 billion.

There is no better time than now for displaced households to make a housing plan and put it into action. Each household’s circumstances are different, but a permanent housing solution generally falls into these categories:

Returning to a Repaired Home

Homeowners may be making progress on repairs to their hurricane-damaged home and may be ready to move back sooner than they realize. Once the house is safe, sanitary and functional, survivors can return home. FEMA considers a home safe, sanitary and functional once its structurally sound and basic utilities are operational.

Finding a New Rental Property

Renters may be looking for new rental property. Renters should search websites, social media and local publications for available properties locally and consider expanding their search to a larger area. Survivors should talk with landlords and property managers about security deposits and utilities.

Purchasing a FEMA-provided Temporary Housing Unit

FEMA has offered the sale of temporary housing units to eligible individuals and families currently living in FEMA-provided units who lack a permanent housing solution.

Survivors can contact their FEMA housing advisor for help achieving their permanent housing solution. Disaster Case Management can also help survivors with housing plans and disaster recovery resources. Residents of Washington and Holmes Counties can contact St. Vincent de Paul by calling 833-476-2372 or emailing