Manufactured homes needed for hurricane victims back-ordered into early 2018, companies say

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — It’s been nearly a month and a half since Hurricane Maria forced many Puerto Ricans to flee to Central Florida, and many still don’t have a permanent place to live.

Many families are living in hotels, rental cars or with friends or family members.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency placed orders for 20,000 manufactured homes to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Then hurricanes Irma and Maria hit, making the situation much worse.

Seven plants in Florida that build manufactured homes are already back-ordered until the first quarter of 2018.

"People that lost homes want to buy replacement homes," Florida Manufactured Housing Association spokesman Jim Ayotte said. "You know, they can't get homes fast enough. And then you have the federal government that needs temporary housing, emergency housing, right away."

Hurricane Maria survivors told Eyewitness News that without an address they can't get a job, but they also need a job before they can get an apartment.

Since Wednesday, Channel 9's Lauren Seabook has been pushing state and federal leaders to get answers on housing Puerto Ricans. All they'll say is, "We're working on it."

"We come here, not because we want to, it's because we need to, because we lost everything in Puerto Rico,” evacuee Valeria Camacho said.

Camacho's family of six hopped on a humanitarian flight to Florida and squeezed into a small apartment with another family. There are 11 people sharing a one-bedroom unit.

"It's a lot of people and we don't have privacy and it's very difficult," Camacho said.

Her family, like thousands of evacuees, said it can’t find an affordable place to live.

"Housing is expensive. The rental is so high, and we don't have a job,” Camacho said.

According to a Bloomberg report, the Trump administration is exploring ways to relocate tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans who are still on the island to the mainland.

Orange County officials asked the state 24 days ago to make temporary housing a priority, but officials told Eyewitness News that the state still has no formal plan.

Read: Orange County mayor letter to Gov. Scott on temporary housing

Eyewitness News has been asking the Division of Emergency Management for days if it has a housing plan for Puerto Ricans in Central Florida. A spokesperson responded Monday and said it's division is working with federal and local partners to consider all available housing solutions.

Camacho said that, in Puerto Rico, the help wasn't happening fast enough.

"The environment, it was turning dangerous. People started killing, people started stealing and it was horrible for us,” Camacho said.

A spokesperson for the state told Eyewitness News that FEMA is reimbursing organizations at Orlando International Airport who are for passing out hotel vouchers to the Puerto Rican families. A spokesperson for United Way, however, said that is not true.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management released the following statement to Channel 9 on the issue:

"It is important to note that FEMA provides disaster survivor housing programs, while disaster survivor sheltering is a local initiative. However, the State proactively and aggressively sought and secured a host state agreement to provide a 100 percent reimbursement mechanism for our community sheltering efforts. Currently, volunteer organizations, working through State coordinated airport relief centers, are providing hotel vouchers to evacuees. In addition, DEM is working with our Federal and local partners to explore and consider all available solutions with regards to housing Hurricane Maria survivors."