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More FEMA trailers headed to Phoenix

Coleman Creek Estates in the third park in the Phoenix area slated to receive FEMA trailers
Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneFEMA is preparing to place mobile homes at Coleman Creek Estates in Phoenix.

Coleman Creek Estates in Phoenix is the third manufactured home park burned in the Almeda fire that is under renovation to accommodate Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers for displaced fire victims.

Completion of a lease agreement with the site owner was announced recently. FEMA is also leasing the Totem Pole Mobile Park in Talent and Rogue Valley Mobile Village in Phoenix.

FEMA presently has 125 families in need of housing, said Paul Corah, a FEMA media relations specialist. Totem Pole will have 27 sites for trailers, and Rogue Valley Mobile Village will have 20. The number of sites at Coleman Creek has not yet been determined.

Work is in various stages at all three sites, with the goal to start moving families into the transitional housing in early June, Corah said.

“We hired consultants to go in there to see what was damaged in the fire,” said Corah. Some existing infrastructure may be usable, while other parts may need replacement.

The United States Army Corp of Engineers will be completing site work at Totem Pole and Rogue Valley Mobile Village. Coleman Creek work will be done by private contractor APTIM Federal Services.

Fire debris has been removed from all the sites. Old concrete pads will be removed and new ones installed. The parks may be reconfigured to accommodate more trailers than previously, necessitating the installation of new infrastructure for water, sewer and electrical services.

“These three sites are near shopping centers, Highway 99 and I-5, which is exactly where we want them — in the center of their communities,” said Corah.

Totem Pole is located on Highway 99 just south of the Crown Market. Rogue Valley Mobile Village is located off Highway 99 just north of Phoenix city limits across from Debby’s Diner. Coleman Creek Estates is near the Bear Creek Greenway and North Phoenix Road.

Occupants will sign a licensing document, similar to a rental agreement, said Corah. They will be able to remain in the trailers for 18 months from the day a disaster declaration was signed in October last year.

“The units will be rent-free for families and survivors that qualify, but they do have to pay for utilities,” said Corah. Units range in size from one to three bedrooms. Two-bedroom trailers are 14-by-60 feet with 840 square feet of living space.

Trailers to accommodate handicapped individuals with wheelchair access can be ordered from manufacturers, said Corah. Some of those have been put in place in FEMA parks in Lincoln and Marion counties.

Homes are staged in Gardiner on the central Oregon Coast and are ready to go. They can be delivered to the Rogue Valley the next day after they are ordered for site placement. FEMA trailers are already in place and occupied in White City and at other locations.

“We are having some tenants moving out of the transitional housing and new families are moving in, so that number can change day by day,” said Corah. “Our main goal is getting families out of hotels into a more permanent situation.”

Extensions have been given beyond the 18-month limits in some areas around the United States, said Corah.

“There’s a long list of criteria that they have to go through,” said Corah. That includes such things as housing availability and progress on rebuilding. Criteria are on a state-by-state basis.

Phoenix-Talent School District’s board of directors has signed a tentative agreement with FEMA for use of land it owns on Colver Road just outside Talent for up to 50 trailers if the space is needed. The possibility has been under investigation since the beginning of the year, and Jackson County has given land-use approval for the setup.

“It appears this action is not needed now, but it is still a possibility if unforeseen circumstances arise,” said school district Superintendent Brent Barry. Since the board meets only every two weeks, the signed document would avoid any delay, he said.

A plan to place transitional housing on Talent Urban Renewal Agency land for residents who don’t qualify for FEMA assistance is also moving ahead, with bids due May 13 for work to install infrastructure for 53 housing units.

Oregon’s Housing and Community Services Department committed $1.7 million to the project in April. The 4.3-acre Gateway site is envisioned to become a mix of commercial and residential development at a later date.

A mandatory pre-bid meeting on the site was held April 29 and drew seven contractors, said TURA Executive Director Jon Legarza. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated for June.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.