Scott waives regulations to fast-track emergency housing

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(The Center Square) — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott is suspending state and local building regulations to fast-track temporary shelter for residents displaced by this summer’s devastating floods.

Scott signed an executive order on Tuesday temporarily waiving local and state regulations for emergency housing sites set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Scott said the temporary suspension of the rules, which adds to an emergency declaration he signed months ago, will allow a FEMA-funded mobile housing project in Montpelier to be constructed more quickly with winter approaching.

“As FEMA works to provide direct housing assistance for flood victims in group housing sites, it is essential they are not delayed by state and local regulations,” the governor said in a statement.

Heavy rains this summer caused devastating floods which inundated homes and submerged thousands of acres of Vermont farmland, causing millions of dollars of damage.

President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration in the state’s 14 counties, clearing the way for affected farmers to apply for low-interest federal loans and other assistance.

FEMA estimates nearly 3,000 homes in Vermont sustained some type of damage in the flooding, including at least 530 designated as having significant damage and 14 other homes destroyed. The flooding also impacted the state capitol, Montpelier, damaging restaurants and other businesses.

The federal agency is expected to install temporary housing units, commonly referred to as FEMA trailers, on a city-owned plot in Montpelier under a temporary lease agreement with the local government.

FEMA will be paying the city $42,768 per month for the use of the property, according to the city. When the lease expires, some of the trailers will be removed while others will be converted into permanent infrastructure to support long-term housing, the city said.

Scott and other Vermont leaders, who’ve expressed frustration at the slow pace of installing the temporary housing, say the move to waive state and local regulations will help speed up the process.

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