PDA

View Full Version : Housing for those whose house has been destroyed



Lidiya
02-20-2013, 05:39 PM
I've started writing my new novel, and it starts off as the MC and her family are in some sort of housing thing for people whose houses have been destroyed, or those who can't live in their houses for some reason.

Their house hasn't been destroyed yet but bomb disposal people are trying to deactivate (or whatever you call it) a bomb found in their garden so they're placed in a sort of home.

That home is really stinky and pretty grim. But I have a few questions to ask before I continue writing.

1. Where would you be placed if something like this happened to your house? Or would you just have to go to a hotel?
2. What would the special housing building be like? Would it be really disgusting like I'm describing it right now (walls crumbling a bit, stone floor, etc)?

Thanks :)

LJD
02-20-2013, 05:54 PM
Well, in this case in my city (http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/02/19/yorkville_condo_evacuees_must_wait_at_least_two_mo re_months_to_go_home.html), they're all living in hotels. Similarly, I had a classmate in high school whose house burnt down; his family stayed at a hotel.

Maryn
02-20-2013, 05:56 PM
I'm in the US, where the Red Cross routinely steps in to provide emergency housing to people whose homes are suddenly uninhabitable.

When there are large numbers--floods, hurricane, tornado damage--most people end up in inexpensive hotels. When it's just one family, they're more likely to land in an inexpensive apartment, usually no larger than a two-bedroom regardless of the number of people. My impression is that the Red Cross has some kind of standing arrangement with the owners of large apartment complexes that they'll rent for short terms, no leases, for displaced families, even though private citizens cannot rent under that arrangement.

The hotels are likely to be somewhat worse for the wear, with a fair amount of damage which is unsightly but doesn't affect utility--think cracked tile, a burn hole on the nightstand, a damaged lamp shade. The apartments will be featureless white-painted boxes with cheap carpet in neutral colors, often of shoddy construction, but look okay. The furnishings are going to be inexpensive and probably ugly, but clean enough.

Why not call the Red Cross in London? Most people love to help writers get it right. Ask to speak to a public information officer who can describe emergency housing.

Maryn, who's seen news footage of people interviewed in their temporary homes

Lidiya
02-20-2013, 06:06 PM
I'm in the US, where the Red Cross routinely steps in to provide emergency housing to people whose homes are suddenly uninhabitable.

When there are large numbers--floods, hurricane, tornado damage--most people end up in inexpensive hotels. When it's just one family, they're more likely to land in an inexpensive apartment, usually no larger than a two-bedroom regardless of the number of people. My impression is that the Red Cross has some kind of standing arrangement with the owners of large apartment complexes that they'll rent for short terms, no leases, for displaced families, even though private citizens cannot rent under that arrangement.

The hotels are likely to be somewhat worse for the wear, with a fair amount of damage which is unsightly but doesn't affect utility--think cracked tile, a burn hole on the nightstand, a damaged lamp shade. The apartments will be featureless white-painted boxes with cheap carpet in neutral colors, often of shoddy construction, but look okay. The furnishings are going to be inexpensive and probably ugly, but clean enough.

Why not call the Red Cross in London? Most people love to help writers get it right. Ask to speak to a public information officer who can describe emergency housing.

Maryn, who's seen news footage of people interviewed in their temporary homes

Thanks!
So I guess describing the wall as a crumbling cheese slice would make sense, then. I just don't want to make it sound like an abandoned war zone.

RedandGold
02-20-2013, 06:19 PM
It also depends on insurance - that may cover temporary accommodation. It also depends on how many people are affected and how long it is expected to last. Another factor is how much money they have got. It also depends on what is available - for example a holiday area in the off season will have loads of holiday accommodation they can use.

You can probably use whatever works best for your story and find a way to justify it.

Rachel77
02-20-2013, 07:06 PM
FEMA is of assistance, depending on the situation; some people displaced by Hurricane Sandy have been given help with apartments while they wait for their homes to be rebuilt.

This (http://www.fema.gov/blog/2012-11-10/housing-options-hurricane-sandy-survivors)gives some details.

veinglory
02-20-2013, 07:08 PM
This sounds like one or a few families being rehomed for just one or two days--possibly a family at risk and the target of the attack? This is more like people cleared temporarily due to an armed person alert or gas leak as the police are probably not expecting the home to be destroyed at all at this point.

I expect that housing would be considerably better than for a mass evacuation of a disaster area. Possibly a police safe house?

shadowwalker
02-20-2013, 07:12 PM
Is the house blown up eventually? Because if they're only waiting for the bomb to be taken care of, they may wait in police car or at a safely distant restaurant. If the house does get blown up, then the Red Cross would step in (in the US anyway) and they'd most likely end up in a hotel until more permanent housing is found (via insurance payment, donations, etc).

ULTRAGOTHA
02-20-2013, 07:30 PM
Does your story take place in London? Or in the USA or Canada (if so, which city and state/province)? Or somewhere else?

FEMA regulations and Red Cross procedures might not help you if the story is based in London.

I agree with shadowwalker that if they're just waiting for the bomb to be defused they might not go anywhere other than down the street to wait, or maybe only be away for one night.


ETA: Judging from your other question, it sounds as if the house is destroyed. In that case, I'd recommend looking for news articles in the area where your story takes place where a house is rendered uninhabitable by fire, or an explosion or what have you and seeing what they report on where the inhabitents go.

Here in the US, the Red Cross usually provides temporary housing until insurance takes over or the family finds a new place to live. Temporary housing is usually not grotty and awful.

If your characters have been permanently displaced and don't have insurance (they were renting, for example) then it might be that they have removed themselves from the council or Red Cross accommodations after a few days and found the cheapest dive they could.

Though if this takes place in Britain I'd personally go for a Youth Hostel and I've never encountered a grotty Youth Hostel in Britain.

Orianna2000
02-20-2013, 07:47 PM
Personal experience (in the US): My parents house was struck by lightning and caught fire. There were seven of us living there at the time: my parents, me, my fiance, my older brother, and two foster children my parents were caring for. When the house was declared unlivable until repairs were made, we were sent to a hotel for a night or two, paid for by our insurance company. It was a fairly nice hotel, nothing super fancy, but not dumpy by any means. They only gave us two rooms, so my brother and fiance stayed in one room, and I was forced to sleep on the pull-out couch in the same room with my parents and two toddlers. It was chaotic and insane, everyone was stressed beyond belief, so arguments broke out and people did stupid things. When it became clear that it would take several months for the damage to be repaired, the insurance company moved us to an apartment. One apartment for all seven of us. It was a nice apartment, fully furnished, in a classy neighborhood. It had three bedrooms, so my parents got one, I got one, and my brother and fiance got one. I shared my room with one of the toddlers, while the other got put in the dining room. It was a lot of people crammed into a small space, so again, there was a lot of tension. Plus, everyone was worried about their belongings, what had got ruined, what would be salvageable, and we all had to make lists of everything we owned for the insurance company. It was extremely volatile and stressful. In addition to being given the apartment, we were each given a very small allowance to buy emergency clothing and toiletries. Our friends donated clothing to help us out, too.

I've never lived through a bomb threat (thank goodness!), so I have no idea whether that would be covered by your regular homeowner's insurance, or if that would fall under the jurisdiction of the Red Cross or something similar.

Lidiya
02-20-2013, 08:31 PM
Is the house blown up eventually? Because if they're only waiting for the bomb to be taken care of, they may wait in police car or at a safely distant restaurant. If the house does get blown up, then the Red Cross would step in (in the US anyway) and they'd most likely end up in a hotel until more permanent housing is found (via insurance payment, donations, etc).

Yeah. The bomb disposal team get something wrong and it blows up the whole place.
It's not a problem about where they'll stay after that; the blown up house makes way for them to move to a different country, which is where the adventures start.

And to those who asked, it takes place somewhere near London.

Buffysquirrel
02-20-2013, 08:52 PM
If all else fails, the local council are responsible for homeless people. That could mean bed & breakfast, which could be of the quality you describe.

I believe insurance policies in the UK generally exclude acts of terrorism, though.