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OFFE Eyeing FEMA Mobile HHomes for Homeless Veterans
By Staff Writer: Rick Townsend

October 2, 2006

Last month, Operation Firing For Effect, (OFFE) hosted a rally in Newark New Jersey for full funding of veteran’s health care. Well known comedian and former Navy Corpsman Bill Cosby was a guess speaker at the event, which was held in Washington Park in Newark on September 6th.

Now, OFFE is at it again and looking for new innovative ways to help this country’s former military personnel and their families.   

Last Friday, Congress approved a homeland security spending bill that included a provision allowing FEMA to sell or donate the trailers in Hope Arkansas to municipalities, nonprofit groups or American Indian tribes across the country.

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said he would prefer that the homes had gone to hurricane victims as originally intended, but selling or donating them to cities or community groups was better than letting them sit unused. "Allowing the homes to sit and deteriorate at the airport is an abuse of taxpayer funding and should not be an option," Pryor said in a statement.

Operation Firing For Effect is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots veteran’s service organization headquartered in Rochester, New York. Vietnam combat disabled veteran Gene Simes is OFFE National Chairman and Sparkplug for the organization. One of many special projects OFFE has been working on for the past several months involve the 9,778 mobile homes currently deteriorating at an airfield in Hope Arkansas. These brand-new mobile homes were tagged for Hurricane Katrina survivors and are currently owned and under the control of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA). But, because of zoning restrictions within the flood plains of New Orleans, nearly 10,000 furnished mobile homes sit surplus in another state.


In early May of this year, Gene Simes wrote two separate letters to President Bush requesting two of these surplus mobile homes be awarded to eligible homeless veterans. Mr. Simes submitted the names of two homeless combat disabled veterans for review and consideration for receipt of these homes. In his letters, he wrote that homelessness among former military personnel is at an all time high, and that the surplus housing could be put to good use immediately.

Aerial view of thousands of FEMA mobile homes in Hope, Arkansas

In a FBN telephone interview, Simes admitted he was thinking way ahead. “We figured if we could get two trailers donated, we could possibility get more approved for homeless vets,” he said.

Gene Simes says he is currently in contact with FEMA officials about his May request to President Bush. “We are going to keep a very close eye on the distribution of these homes,” Simes said. “Operation Firing For Effect and our supporters will be doing everything we can to insure that our homeless veterans have priority and that a large number of these government surplus trailers are awarded to needy veterans or direct family members of veterans,” Simes stated. “We expect our former military personnel and their families to be given the first opportunity for awards of these homes,” Simes added.

Mr. Simes has already contacted several labor unions leaders for assistance in transporting and setting up the first two of these mobile homes. “I am humbled by the response I have received thus far. Everyone wants to get involved and help get these homes to needy families as soon as possible. I have verbal commitments from Union plumbers, electricians, and truckers to get this project off the ground ASAP,” Simes said.

According to Mr. Simes, Operation Firing For Effect is at the forefront of a national grassroots movement designed to find innovative ways to improve healthcare and services utilized by our discharged and retired military personnel. “Homeless veterans are at the top of our list,” Simes stated.  

FEMA approval of the OFFE concept and request is pending.  

If you would like to know more about Operation Firing For Effect Homeless Veterans Project, contact Gene Simes at (315)986-7322.      



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