Options for alternative housing

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While some Malibu victims of the fires of October and November have solid insurance plans that provide for comfortable and even luxurious accommodation during the permitting and rebuilding process, other Malibu homeowners were underinsured, or had no fire insurance at all, and now are faced with expensive or no housing options.

One option is to apply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for covering rental costs not covered by insurance for up to 18 months. Also, if insurance money is delayed, FEMA will advance the money, which must be repaid after the insurance settlement is received. FEMA has approved $2.8 million to pay for rental assistance.

Another option is to apply for a federally funded mobile home that can be placed on one’s property during the rebuilding process. (Sean Penn lived in a mobile home on his Malibu property after his home burned in 1993.) The city of Malibu’s City Planning Division must approve the placement of a mobile home and it can only be up to 24 feet wide.

The FEMA qualifications for a temporary mobile home include:

The site being accessible by road and having acceptable water, sewer and electrical hook-ups available; the site must be inspected to be sure it has enough space for a FEMA mobile home, which are larger than 64 square feet; the site must be outside a floodplain; and the site must be cleared of debris.

Clearing away the remnants of houses, vehicles, trees and other debris is another service offered by FEMA.

After FEMA resources have been exhausted, victims of the fires can apply to the Small Business Administration for low cost loans to fund repairs or rebuilding efforts, and cover the cost of replacing lost or damaged personal property.

FEMA can be contacted by calling 800.621.FEMA (3362). SBA can be contacted by calling 800.659.2955. The local Malibu Assistance Center at Bluffs Park will transition to a SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center at a new location, 23805 Stuart Ranch Rd., #100, on Monday, Dec. 10.

Information compiled

by Ben Marcus’