Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Housing the hurricane homeless, and the barrier of local land use law …

   In this year of big government solutions, one would think America would welcome the federal government’s assistance to those made homeless by hurricanes.  After all, one of the lessons of Hurricane Katrina a few years ago is that one government needs to be in charge of responses to disasters –- and that government should be (as it is with so many problems these days) the federal government, primarily though the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Hurricane  But the disturbing news from Texas this month is that FEMA, after a fairly successful effort to save and provide short-term housing to people left homeless by Hurricane Ike, is running into difficulties in setting up the moderate-term solution of mobile homes.  One significant problem is zoning laws that discriminate against mobile homes and other low-cost housing.  FEMA has plenty of mobile homes, it says, but not enough spots in southeast Texas on which to plant them.  Surely the typical antipathy to mobile homes and other low-cost housing has come into play here.
   If we as Americans demand the federal government to save us and house us when a natural disaster hits, shouldn’t some of our cherished local land use laws give way when this federal government needs land to house the hurricane homeless?

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