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Special assistant to the parish attorney Maimuna Magee addresses the proposed temporary hardship waiver discussed in Item 59, Wednesday, January 10, 2018, during a meeting of the metro council at City Hall in Baton Rouge, La. The hardship waiver pertains to manufactured housing units on property for those who suffered damage to their homes in the August 2016 floods.

People in Baton Rouge have at least six more months to keep mobile homes and trailers on their property while they finish rebuilding from the floods that swamped the city-parish in August 2016.

East Baton Rouge Metro Council members agreed Wednesday to extend a waiver that allows people to keep mobile homes on their private property if they can prove hardship in their attempts to rebuild from the flood. Council members suspended some zoning laws after the floods inundated an estimated 41,100 residential structures across the parish, but have recently talked about returning to a point of normalcy.

That point has not been reached yet.

Councilman Buddy Amoroso backed off Wednesday from his original intent to restore regular zoning laws, saying he had recently been reminded how many people are still struggling post-flood.

"I wish people weren't living in temporary housing and I look forward to the day when we can get back to normal," Amoroso said.

The extension approved Wednesday applies more to people who placed privately owned temporary housing structures on their property, rather than those who received manufactured housing units from FEMA.

Fewer than half the Louisiana households who received FEMA housing are still living in the manufactured units, according to an update from the agency Wednesday that put the number of people in FEMA homes across the state at 1,965. The agency reported that  1,094 people were still living in them in East Baton Rouge Parish.

FEMA will start to charge rent March 1 for those living in its mobile homes. Prices will depend on "fair market rates" and consideration of a household's finances, according to the agency.

FEMA also reported that 631 of its units that are no longer needed in Louisiana have gone to Texas to house those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Council members said Wednesday that the number of people struggling to recover from the floods has dwindled, but there are still too many. Councilwoman Tara Wicker said allowing people to stay on their own property, even if they are not inside of their homes, can give them a sense of safety and comfort.

"People are having a challenging time getting back in their homes due to funding," said Councilman LaMont Cole.

The state's Restore Louisiana homeowner assistance program is ongoing. FEMA reported that Restore Louisiana offered more than $131 million to 4,550 homeowners as of Jan. 8. People can apply for the program at restore.la.gov or call 866-735-2001.

Representatives from the program have also scheduled multiple public meetings throughout the next month for homeowners affected by the floods across the state.


Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​