FEMA Prepares First Mobile Home Park, Nearly Six Months After the Camp Fire

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Nearly six months after the Camp Fire erupted, FEMA is getting ready to open its first mobile home park for survivors of the blaze amid criticism that the agency didn’t bring in housing support more quickly. Pictured: Rosewood Estates in Oroville on April 18, 2019. (Polly Stryker/KQED)

Nearly six months after the Camp Fire erupted, FEMA is getting ready to open its first mobile home park for survivors of the blaze amid criticism that the agency didn’t bring in housing support more quickly.

Coverage of the Camp Fire

The state's most destructive wildfire broke out just before dawn Nov. 8, burning nearly 14,000 homes in the communities of Paradise, Magalia and Concow, and killing 85 people. The blaze's destruction worsened an already difficult housing crisis in and around the nearby city of Chico: Butte County had some 2,000 homeless, NPR reported, and many survivors were left scrambling for housing, with some crashing in Chico and others staying in tents or RVs on their scorched properties.

FEMA said Thursday it’s preparing to open the first of four mobile home parks devoted to Camp Fire survivors in the next few weeks; the agency plans for around 700 mobiles homes eventually. FEMA said last week that nearly 1,000 people need temporary housing in RVs and mobile homes.

The first mobile home park, Rosewood Estates in Oroville, the units has 40 homes with one-, two- and three-bedroom units. On the inside, they're spare — with a couch, bed and a dresser. On the outside, workers cut lumber with buzz saws, drive Bobcats around and move lumber, all while country music plays in the background.

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People can live in the housing for up to 18 months.

Building out sites for mobile homes involves several state and local agencies, permissions, inspections and permits, said FEMA spokesman Michael Peacock in responding to criticism about how long it has taken the agency to bring in temporary housing for fire survivors.

"We are working as fast as we possibly can to provide shelter to those survivors," he said.

FEMA offers various types of housing aid, like trailers and rental assistance. Currently, FEMA is providing more than 7,400 people impacted by the Camp Fire with rental aid and offering temporary housing to some 260 families, according to agency data.