FEMA Gives Systems Builders Chance to Help Rebuild Gulf Coast
The Federal Emergency Management Administration is preparing to parcel out money from a $400 million federal grant to encourage hurricane-damaged states to submit housing designs and products that are more cost-effective, comfortable and durable than the travel trailers and manufactured homes now supplied by the agency.
The grants present a huge opportunity for NAHB members, said David Endy of Stratford Homes, a Wisconsin-based modular building company. Endy is chairman of the NAHB Building Systems Councils, which includes leaders in the modular, panelized, concrete and log home building industries. “$400 million is a lot of money, and a lot of homes,” he said.
For example, the Katrina Cottage, which debuted during last January’s International Builders’ Show, could be built using similar floor plans and elevations as a panelized or modular home. “There are manufacturers who could build these in a factory setting and then ship them down there,” Endy said. “These are smaller homes, but they could go up quickly and be a huge upgrade from the FEMA trailers.”
FEMA’s Alternative Housing Pilot Program is targeting non-profit organizations and industry groups as well as home builders, who are invited to come up with innovative, creative homes “that can be produced, transported and installed in a timely manner and in appropriate quantities, that are adaptable to a variety of site conditions, and that will facilitate sustainable and permanent housing,” according to the FEMA announcement.
The ideas must be submitted through designated state agencies in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The agencies that are awarded the pilot program money can spend it on the chosen programs.
Endy is encouraging Building Systems Councils members and other NAHB builders to contact the Gulf Coast state agencies with ideas for pilot projects in the affected states. For a list of state contacts, click here.
“The Alternative Housing Pilot Program is an opportunity for the states, the housing industry and other organizations to help FEMA and Congress explore new ideas for providing post-disaster housing to people in need,” FEMA said on its Web site.
"This Gulf Coast pilot will have national applicability, as it will help FEMA consider new ways to house people quickly and efficiently for future disasters," said FEMA Director David Paulison in an agency press release.
“For systems builders, there is some real opportunity for manufacturers to develop some housing that can help the Gulf Coast rebuild faster than traditional housing can,” Endy said. “With the market slowing down right now, this is a good time for something like this to come out. If we can keep manufacturing facilities building something, it’s hugely helpful.”
Click here to learn more about the grant application, which is due Oct. 20.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.