The deadline for the county to take possession of six to eight modular homes from Fort Hood to give Rancho Brazos families left homeless by the May tornado is fast approaching – but the Commissioners Court this week tabled the issue for the second time.
Commissioners asked County Attorney Lori Kaspar to review deed restrictions to make sure there are no problems with verbiage regarding mobile homes versus modular homes, and with the county placing the structures on property that is privately owned.
“We’ve got to follow rules and regulations, and that seems to be the holdup,” Precinct 3 County Commissioner Jeff Tout said Wednesday.
On Thursday, County Judge Darrell Cockerham posted a specially called meeting of the Commissioners Court for 9 a.m. Tuesday. The agenda item for the meeting calls for the county judge to sign all documents related to the modular housing – an indicator that perhaps Kaspar has been able to resolve the issues.
Rancho Brazos is in Tout’s precinct. Tout, an attorney, has been cautious about making sure there are no legal missteps in the county taking responsibility for the homes.
The Tornado Finance Relief Committee headed by United Way of Hood County has been working since June to secure the modular homes and work out a myriad of logistics involved. The effort has included not only United Way, but also Mission Granbury and Hood County Habitat for Humanity.
The only entities that can accept delivery of the pre-fab homes from Fort Hood are those that have contracts with the federal government.
Initially, the American Red Cross was going to accept delivery of the homes, but the organization backed out in late December. The county meets the criteria regarding the federal government, so the Commissioners Court was asked to allow the county to accept delivery of the homes.
Modular homes are sectional, prefabricated houses that consist of multiple sections, or modules. They are built in a factory-like setting, then transported to other locations, where they are assembled by a builder.
The homes that are on hold for Hood County are between 1,500 and 1,600 square feet. One of them may be used as temporary office space for nonprofits, then given to a family once it is no longer needed by nonprofits assisting in the recovery effort.
The efforts to secure the homes and get them delivered to Rancho Brazos have involved state Sen. Brian Birdwell, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry, according to Marilyn Luton, chair of the Tornado Finance Relief Committee and president of the United Way of Hood County board of directors.
Perry, Luton said, has given approval for the structures to be transported from Fort Hood to Hood County at no cost.
Luton said that the deadline to take possession of the modular homes is just a couple of weeks away. An extension until March 15 has been requested, she said, but the status of that request is not yet known.
Luton said she is hoping that things will move forward once the county attorney is able to give clarification regarding the deed restrictions.
She said that seven families are counting on the modular homes. Two of the families, she said, have been separated because of temporary living arrangements.
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