Florida is second in the nation in foreclosures but the black eye could become a silver lining for families whose homes are destroyed by a hurricane. Emergency managers are discussing a plan to use the houses as evacuation shelters.
“When you look at a catastrophic event like this, you’re talking perhaps a million people will be displaced. We have to find a place for them,” said David Halstead, the Interim Deputy Director of the Division of Emergency Management.
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes says the move would lighten the load on nonprofit groups who respond to storms.
“If we can get creative and find a way to take some people out of the system, keep them closer. I don’t think it gets any better than that,” said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, the President and CEO of FLASH.
The Florida Banker’s Association is sympathetic to the idea, but a spokesman for the company says there are legal and liability issues that make the plan a hard sale.
People living next to foreclosed properties also have concerns about moving evacuees into their neighborhoods. Governor Charlie Crist said more research needs to be done before he gets on board with the plan.
“The notion has some promise perhaps, but I think it needs to be vetted a little more,” Crist said.
In the mean time FEMA plans to use emergency shelters, apartments, and empty dorm rooms to house people left homeless by a hurricane. One concern about housing evacuees in foreclosed homes is the condition the home is in. Some of the houses haven’t been lived in for several years. Other houses have been destroyed by vandals or the previous owners.