March 07, 2022

Wyden: FEMA Extends Rent Deadline and Assistance to Fire Survivors Living in Temporary Direct Housing

FEMA clarified new rent deadline; began process to adjust rents, accounting for post-fire income and expenses

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today announced, after meeting with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell, that April rent for 2020 fire survivors who are living in FEMA temporary direct housing will not be due until May 1, and will be lower than market rate for some families.

“For Oregonians needing FEMA housing, the flames of the 2020 fires have been extinguished, but the road to recovery after the devastating fire remains a long and winding challenge,” said Wyden. “I made it very clear when I spoke with Administrator Criswell that fire survivors in Oregon need the proper time and support to afford their stay in temporary housing. I will continue to hold FEMA accountable to its commitment to a proactive rent adjustment process, prompt communication with state and local partners, as well as accessible outreach to multilingual families.”

In February, FEMA sent letters to survivors of the 2020 fires who are in direct temporary housing, notifying occupants of the transition to pay “market rate” to continue staying in FEMA trailers, starting April 1. Survivors, mostly low-income, have not paid rent to FEMA since they moved in. However, due to the nature of temporary-housing limits, the letter alerts survivors, some of whom earn as little as $600 a month on Social Security, that they may need to pay $1,000 or more in rent.

Following Senator Wyden’s call with Administrator Criswell, FEMA confirmed that the announcement that market-rate rent would be due April 1 was an error. Rent will not be due until May 1. FEMA spent this past weekend ensuring that affected families know about the update and the process to have their rent adjusted on the basis of post-disaster income and expenses.

Of the 179 families in temporary direct housing, 43 have already begun the rental adjustment process, and five households have qualified for the minimum adjusted rent of $50 per month. FEMA also expects some families may make the transition out of temporary housing into more permanent housing in the next month. 

FEMA also committed to provide enough caseworkers on the ground in Oregon to work with each and every family to support them through the rental adjustment process, including the continuation of multilingual resources.