Requirements to qualify for and acquire a former Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer through the Mescalero Housing Authority put the units out of reach for those truly in need, says a tribal member.

Joseph Geronimo said a $4,500 price tag for each unit places them beyond the reach of many Mescalero families and individuals. According to a notice issued by the housing authority, the charge is necessary to recoup $90,000 spent to bring the trailers from Missouri to the reservation that abuts Ruidoso.

A spokesman for the housing authority Wednesday declined comment on the issue.

"You have to have a land assignment and there are other rules to participate, like proof of the ability to pay the tribe and to pay for taking the trailer to the land," Geronimo said. "You must set it up yourself and have access to water and electricity. It's sad. The have-nots still have nothing. I think (the trailers) should go to those really homeless or who have no or low income. And they don't have $4,500."

He said the last time the tribe received FEMA trailers, the units cost even more, "and the big shots got those. They're sitting around their houses. Now they're doing it again."

However, one of the rules listed on the housing authority's notice to tribal members would seem to preclude a homeowner from entering the competition for trailers.

The housing authority notice states that anyone who owns a home cannot participate. The program is open to all tribal members, who are at least 18 years old.


Only one entry per person is allowed.

If a person's name is drawn, he or she must provide proof that the have or will gain a land assignment and that they have the ability to pay for the trailer.

Transportation to the land site is the responsibility of the new owner. The deadline to file an application is 4:30 p.m., Nov. 30, and the drawing is scheduled for 1 p.m., Dec. 7, in the community center gymnasium. A list of winners will be posted after the drawing. On Dec. 14, a mandatory meeting with authority staff is set for 9 a.m. in the west conference room of the community center.

FEMA purchased 144,000 mobile homes and travel trailers during the government's disaster response to Katrina, but the agency's regulations prohibited using them in flood zones, which cover most of southeastern Louisiana, Kenneth J. Cooper wrote recently in "America's Wire," focusing on the possibly "sickening" level of formaldehyde.

Recipients include the Mescalero Apache, Standing Rock Sioux in North and South Dakota, Oglala Sioux in South Dakota and Cherokee in Oklahoma, Cooper wrote. The writer quoted Alvin Benally, executive director of the Mescalero Apache Housing Authority, as saying that the units have "worked out fine" and he had not heard about any "real problems."

The tribe received at least 21 mobile homes from FEMA and another four in April from HUD, Cooper wrote.