Unoccupied FEMA trailers leave many confused

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Last week, more than 200 families were left without housing again. One of those families was Marcia Waldrop and her mother.

"And April the 9th they told us that we had to get out of the rooms, FEMA was no longer paying for them," said Waldrop.

She and her mother have been house hopping, staying at friends' homes since having to leave their Transitional Sheltering Assistance hotel room after the program expired.

Waldrop said, "I'm just worried, you know? I'm just worried about my mother at 86 and I'm 60 just living on the street. All I want is a roof over my head."

The FEMA trailer site at the Bay County Fairgrounds is one of several in Bay County. But of 138 trailers on the property, 58 are currently unoccupied.

Kathy Coy, a resident at the trailer site, said, "My Angel--my dog--we walk and there is a lot of empty trailers available. You know, because I've been here a month and they're all empty."

Waldrop said, "You know, if the FEMA trailers are sitting there why won't they let someone in them that needs it? I don't know."

For their part, FEMA said, "We are still currently housing individuals at group sites. There are some eligible households who are having difficulty arranging utility hookup, including water and electricity. As they must pay their own utility bills in order to be eligible for a housing unit. This has been a challenge throughout the process and we have worked closely with the state and local officials to coordinate help for those households."

But Coy said, "There's maybe 15 people here and there's over 50 trailers."

To be eligible for Direct Housing, FEMA says individuals must show proof of working on their permanent housing plan among other criteria. Officials add that at this time, each individual or household that was eligible for Direct Housing has been identified.