Institute testifies to Congress about FEMA temporary housing

July 8, 2009 — More work needs to be done to develop standards and provisions for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) temporary housing. That was a key point the National Institute of Building Sciences made during its testimony today to the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Gerald H. Jones, PE, a member of the Institute's Multhazard Mitigation Council (MMC) Board of Direction, addressed the Committee as an expert witness and talked about the work the MMC performed to help the Joint Housing Solutions Group evaluate temporary housing.

In response to a question from Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) about the need for further work on temporary housing, Jones congratulated FEMA on the work completed to date. "Flexibility, however, remains essential to providing temporary housing on a large scale," said Jones. "Collecting and analyzing real-time performance feedback should not be overlooked."

In late 2006, MMC began working with the Joint Housing Solutions Group to develop criteria and methodologies for determining the suitability of temporary housing structures, including safe and hazard-resistant design and materials. The resulting web-based housing assessment tool, which collects information on housing alternatives from housing manufacturers, vendors and builders, provides a standard frame of reference for comparing traditional and innovative emergency housing alternatives.

Jones explained, "A comprehensive set of standards is needed to allow for flexibility in providing temporary housing throughout the United States."

About the Institute

The National Institute of Building Sciences, authorized by public law 93-383 in 1974, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that brings together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests to identify and resolve building process and facility performance problems. The Institute serves as an authoritative source of advice for both the private and public sectors with respect to the use of building science and technology.


Gretchen Hesbacher
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