Cabinet has approved the importation of 75 trailer homes for persons made homeless by Hurricane Ivan, and 10 of the units will be arriving in mid-January.
These 32-feet-long and eight-foot-wide homes carry a capacity to house six persons, and are to be rented on a lease arrangement at $500 to $600 monthly. The units are fully furnished and occupants will have to pay for their utility services.
One service, however, may be free for a while. ‘We have an offer from a telephone company to provide a year of telecommunications for people who are tenants,’ said Recovery Manager Orrett Connor.
The units are approved by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency and 3,000 of them were recently placed in Florida to bring relief to persons affected by the four hurricanes that passed there.
The batch for Cayman is now being manufactured in Indiana.
In responding to the pressing need for accommodation the housing sub-committee of the Cayman Islands Recovery Operation has already set up office at the MacDonald building in George Town, and members of staff are interviewing persons to determine who are most in need.
‘We are discovering more and more people who are still living with family and friends,’ said Mr. Connor, Friday at a CIRO press briefing.
Mrs. Joy Basdeo, who heads the housing sub-committee, said that decisions on who will get to lease these homes are to be made quickly so that expectations of people are not raised to any avail. Occupants will be named by the end of the first week in January.
These trailer homes are being brought in to house some of the more than 200 persons registered as homeless. CIRO reported there are 176 persons registered with the Department of Children and Family Services; along with 34 teachers; 21 medical personnel; and 26 in East End.
‘We can’t solve everyone’s needs, but we are hoping to take those with pressing needs from those groups of people,’ Mrs. Basdeo said.
She wants Cabinet to approve importation of more units. ‘I believe that if the programme goes well, we might be able to get more if required.’
Placement of the units will depend on the resources of the occupants. ‘People have an option whether to put them on their own property, or on the government site,’ Mrs. Basdeo said.
These homes come with what is described as an exit plan that stipulates they must leave the Cayman Islands within 24 months. They may be shipped to another jurisdiction, or re-sold to the manufacturers who may want to re-furbish them for on-selling to another customer.
Reportedly stronger than the typical recreational trailers, they are equipped with hurricane straps for the roofs and are built to withstand winds up to 75 miles an hour.
Mr. Connor said that a proposal will soon be placed before Cabinet for a law for mandatory evacuation of persons living in the trailer homes. This legislation will also cover visitors, many of whom did not heed advice of the National Hurricane Committee to leave the islands before the arrival of Ivan.
CIRO will seek to have the maximum number of persons per unit while repairing the permanent homes of the occupants as soon as possible so they can quickly leave the units, making room for other persons.
Private individuals and organisations also have the option of bringing in trailer homes for temporary housing, but these cannot be put on the market for rent.