OCTOBER 5, 2006 - Posted at 7:56 a.m. CDT
HOPE, AR - Many agencies have expressed an interest in more than 9,000 federal government trailers at Hope that orginally were to be used by survivors of the Gulf Coast hurricanes last year. A new federal law gives the Federal Emergency Management Agency authority to donate or sell the trailers to nonprofits or municipalities for a public good. Previously, the manufactured homes had to be used for disaster relief.
Democratic Congressman Mike Ross, whose district includes Hope, says his office has gotten more than 500 calls in the past few days from people and groups wanting to know how to get a trailer. He's been referring the calls to FEMA.
Jim Smith, manager of the Arkansas Federal Surplus Property program, says several groups have called about the trailers in Hope. He says he could give away 100 of them in about two months. Among the agencies interested is the Arkansas Department of Correction. The prison system took two of the manufactured homes in 2003.
Prison officials say the prisons use mobile homes to provide quarters for employees who live on the property. The department also is considering setting up trailers as places where guards could stay a few days a week, while they are working.