Friday, March 20, 2009

Of Hurricanes and Tiny Houses

So I have recently discovered Julie Martin with Lodge on Wheels (thanks to Steph) and am hoping to talk to her soon about including her in my documentation of the Small House Movement. While scouring the internet for more information about her, I found that she actually contacted Jay Shafer and they worked together on a design for LoW and have a licensing agreement for the Gulf Coast model for people affected by the hurricane. In case you haven't read any of the stories on her, she worked restoring historic homes in Mississippi, and actually lived in the oldest home on the Gulf Coast (built 1787) until it was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. After the hurricane, she decided it was more important to work on building small houses that she saw were desperately needed by the people around her (and herself).

While reading about this woman and in addition to doing research for my own project, I started wondering more as to where all these houses were. We've been hearing now about Marianne Cusato's Katrina Cottages for years, but where are they? We're inching in on 4 years since the hurricane, but the only coverage I've seen of houses built in New Orleans have been by Habitat for Humanity. Apparently, not one Katrina Cottage has been built in New Orleans or Louisiana in the two years since the $75 million grant was awarded by FEMA to provide homes for those displaced by Katrina and Rita. BUT, in Mississippi, thousands of cottages have been completed with their $281 million grant. You might be wondering how that could be, and no doubt, Jay Shafer was right about this one: "Mississippi was able to avoid lengthy and complicated environmental regulations by putting their homes on wheels."


unm00red said...

Amanda, I hadn't realized that not a single Katrina cottage had been built in the region. (No wonder I had trouble finding examples.) How sad. What exactly happened to all the FEMA money, did it go into trailers?

amanda said...

Yeah, when you look on the site at the Katrina cottage photos, you can see that all the built ones are basically model homes, or, from what I can tell, have been purchased by people with independent funds to rebuild. Nothing as of yet with the actual FEMA money though. It's pretty sad...and ridiculous.

Eva said...

Homes are surely needed but I'm not convinced that "avoid lengthy and complicated environmental regulations" is the way to go.

Cutting down coastal forests, building in inappropriate places and attempting to regulate waterways against sound environmental advice was part of what got New Orleans in trouble.

amanda said...

Hi Eva, I'm pretty sure that the story I pulled that quote from was referring to the extensive permitting process required for building homes on foundations and the fact Mississippi has been able to move forward much more quickly since they chose to build homes in a different way. Since the new houses are going onto land where houses were already in existence, I don't think cutting down coastal forests or regulating waterways figures into this current problem at all, though I agree completely that that was the problem in the first place.

Derek said...

LOVE that tiny peach-colored house/cottage- lot and all... very ideal/tidy.