FEMA program hopes to address housing needs in the Rogue Valley

TALENT, Ore. – Local wildfire survivors are getting the option to buy the FEMA trailer they’re currently calling home. It’s something FEMA said it’s never done before. Now NBC5 News is learning that the trailers that aren’t kept will be donated to nonprofits, something agencies here hope can benefit the local homeless community.

It’s called the Sale and Donation Program. FEMA said it’ll help transition wildfire survivors from temporary to permanent housing. For wildfire survivors who don’t want to buy their trailer, they’ll go to a nonprofit for another family in need. Something Medford non-profit Rogue Retreat said could be huge for our community.

FEMA announced in November a new plan to help wildfire survivors transition into permanent housing. It’s called the Sale and Donation program and it’s something the federal agency has never done before.

“Because there’s such a shortage of housing in Southern Oregon, we have to come up with different ways to help the community in the best way we can,” said Paul Corah from FEMA.

But for those who choose not to stay in FEMA housing, their trailer will get donated to a nonprofit.

“I would like for them to take advantage of that option. They can utilize it or it can be utilized by another family that needs it here in the valley,” said Rick Dyer, Jackson Co. Commissioner.

Medford nonprofit Rogue Retreat said while FEMA hasn’t contacted them about this program, it believes it could really benefit the Rogue Valley.

“What we’re seeing in Southern Oregon, as we’ve pulled together as various organizations and communities and municipalities, and we’re working to create something for our people,” said Chad McComas, Executive Director of Rogue Retreat.

McComas said it could be similar to the Phoenix-Talent Gateway Project. That program put dozens of school district families in RVs after their homes burned in the Almeda Fire.

“If there’s a way to get some land that we could create a little village of, one of the things that pop in my mind is, we need more housing for seniors,” said McComas.

Rogue Retreat is already operating Hope Village, the Kelly Shelter, and an urban campground in Medford. It’s also involved in other projects locally and said there’s no shortage of need, these FEMA trailers could help alleviate that. Wildfire survivors have until March 2022 to decide to keep their trailers.

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