PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - One FEMA trailer park in Port St. Joe is raising questions... not about what's in it, but about what's missing from it.
One FEMA trailer park in Port St. Joe is only partially filled with trailers, leaving many to wonder... why is it not fully occupied? (WJHG/WECP)
Local resident, Kathleen McNulty Simon, said, "These lots go all the way around and they're empty and I just feel so bad for people that are homeless."
We counted at least 20 empty lots, and with so much available space, some local residents are wondering why they aren't filled.
Sandy Quinn, Chairman of the Board of Gulf County Commissioners, said, "FEMA actually zoned this park for about 50-52 trailers and they're on an as-needed basis so as the people qualify, FEMA will bring trailers in."
But Simon says there are plenty who could use a space on the partially empty lot.
"And we're still seeing people that are living in people's lots in tents. So we feel really grateful and lucky but there are people out there that need a home," she said.
So where are the trailers for these empty lots? Quinn says all may not be as it seems.
"The lots are probably empty because what happens is if the homes were destroyed, a lot of people probably cleared their lots out and they are allowed to... FEMA will move that trailer to set that trailer on their lot," said Quinn.
In response, FEMA issued a statement saying, "Some of the vacant pads are a result of eligible applicants finding alternate housing solutions and did not need to move into the group site. Therefore, no unit was placed on that pad. FEMA has identified all housing needs for eligible applicants for Direct Temporary Housing. No additional housing units will be brought to the site as housing needs have been met for all that are eligible."
For residents like Simon, the empty lots serve as a symbol of possibilities for those still homeless.
"Geez, you know, if this is available let people know about it," said Simon.
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