Houston Lifts Ban On FEMA Trailers

The city council passed an ordinance letting residents live in a trailer or RV on their own property while rebuilding homes damaged by Harvey

More than five months after Hurricane Harvey, Houston residents displaced by the storm will finally get access to FEMA trailers. Houston City Council passed an ordinance letting people live in trailers or RVs on their own property for six months while repairing storm and flood damage, with an additional six months if needed.

The measure encountered some resistance. Council Member Mike Laster initially sought to postpone the vote. He was concerned the change would override neighborhood rules that prohibit trailers.

"I'm trying to find a way to help neighbors who live in deed restricted communities to have access to these trailers," said Laster, who represents District J, "and the best way to do that is to be as clear as possible on the front end so our permitting department will know how to handle these."

Mayor Sylvester Turner said the ordinance would not override local deed restrictions. Rather it was designed to get city rules out of the way, specifically rules that only allow residents to live in trailers or RVs when they are located in a mobile home park. Turner stressed that roughly 4,000 Houston residents displaced by Harvey are living in hotels paid for by FEMA, and that it’s uncertain how long their hotel stays will be extended. Further, he said many other displaced residents are living in flood-damaged homes for lack of any alternative.

"I am not a big fan of RVs, mobile homes," said Turner. "I've said that repeatedly. I'm not a big fan. But if the process is moving very slowly, as it is, and we don't know what Congress is going to do, then we've got to do what we can do."

A delegation of city council members will travel to Washington next week to lobby Congress to pass the $81 billion disaster relief bill now stalled in the Senate.


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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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