Posts Tagged ‘Gulf Coast Temporary Housing’

FEMA Trailers – the Sequel

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Life Imitates Art

Life Imitates Art

For disaster-fatigued residents of the Gulf Coast, it must be a struggle to move forward with their lives as a painful symbol of the past has returned: the FEMA trailers. The Federal Emergency Management Agency had provided close to $3 billion worth of mobile home trailers intended to be used for temporary housing for Louisiana residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Many occupants of those trailers had developed respiratory ailments, which was subsequently attributed to high levels of formaldehyde resulting from the cheap wood and poor ventilation in the units. The government decided to ban the use of trailers for long-term housing.

But the trailers are re-appearing in the Gulf Coast to provide temporary housing for workers involved in the clean up of the oil spill. Because of the $130 million annual cost to store and maintain the trailers, the government elected to sell them in public auctions. Members of Congress had expressed concerns that the trailers would be re-purposed for long-term housing, which fears appear to have been realized. Purchasers of the trailers may not be aware of the health risks associated with the formaldehyde in the trailers or of the ban on their use for long-term housing purposes. But really, what other purpose would the trailers serve if not housing, as they were built with lavatories and kitchenettes? We are long past the time to demand a comprehensive overhaul and accountability from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “FEMA Trailers – the Sequel” is simply inexcusable.

This photograph is of original art made by New Orleans artist Karen Niklaus. I enjoy art that expresses powerful messages about politics and social change and this piece resonated with me.