Washington, DC—Though the mobile homes distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) face more stringent regulations than the travel trailers, U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today wrote to FEMA Director R. David Paulison asking that he address any concerns about the mobile homes allocated to Indian Country in light of today’s news on the travel trailers.
Johnson had been a strong advocate of moving the unused mobile homes that the federal government purchased in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to serve the homeless and under-housed in Indian Country. Johnson’s efforts were successful with 1,000 mobile homes offered to tribes around the country.
Today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released information on unsafe formaldehyde levels in the travel trailers, suggesting people move out of the travel trailers as soon as possible. The mobile homes did not face the same risk of formaldehyde contamination, due to HUD regulations governing their construction.
“I have been assured time and time again that the mobile homes have stronger regulations than the travel trailers and that the mobile homes are safe. Given how FEMA has handled the travel trailer situation, I know this will raise additional questions on the mobile homes. I want FEMA to address these concerns as soon as possible, and I want to be made aware of any concerns expressed by Indian country,” Johnson said.
The travel trailers with formaldehyde problems can be hitched to the back of a vehicle. The mobile homes that were made available to Indian Country were mostly new, unused, 3 bedroom homes with an estimated 30 year life span.
Full text of the letter is below:
February 14, 2008
R. David Paulison
Federal Emergency Management Agency
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20472
Dear Mr. Paulison,
I am writing in regards to the confirmation by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that elevated levels of formaldehyde exist in ‘travel trailers’ that were provided to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the Gulf Coast. In addition to that information, it is also the recommendation of the CDC to have those victims moved out of the trailers by spring and summer when temperatures begin to rise.
As you know, the formaldehyde emissions of materials in 'travel trailers' are not regulated as they are in 'mobile homes' according to 24 C.F.R. §§ 3280.308-309. I understand the Federal Emergency Management Agency has done everything to ensure the safety of ‘mobile homes’ distributed under the tribal provision of the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA). However, I must reiterate that every step must be taken to make certain that ‘mobile homes’ already distributed and those scheduled for distribution are safe.
It is also my hope that should any concern arise from those ‘mobile homes’ already distributed or scheduled for distribution, that your agency respond quickly and decisively to those concerns. Please let me know what actions FEMA takes when instances arise when there is concern with FEMA distributed ‘mobile homes’. Thank you for your attention to this issue.
United States Senate