During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, urban planner Andres Duany issued a bold assignment. Duany, a resident of Florida, believed that FEMA’s temporary housing solution– namely $70,000 trailers– was ill-conceived and impractical. For one, FEMA trailers were supposed to provide people with housing for only eighteen months, though over a decade after Hurricane Andrew, many Floridians are still living in those trailers. Trailers are not exactly hurricane-proof; indeed, to a certain extent, the government was locating displaced individuals into more vulnerable housing. Duany also noted that FEMA trailers are not aesthetically-pleasing; they can strip a neighborhood of its character, facilitating blight. So Duany held a charette in October of 2005 and asked participants to come up with a solution: For $70,000 per unit, was there anything else the government could do to provide temporary housing?

The solution was presented by Marianne Cusato. Aptly named a “Katrina Cottage,” Cusato designed an attractive, modular home built from quality materials. Cusato’s initial design has been copied numerous times, and the construction costs for these cottages can range from $35,000- $90,000, depending on their size. Here is a picture of a Katrina Cottage:

And here’s what the inside looks like:

Katrina Cottages represent a breakthrough in temporary housing, and soon, Lowes will begin selling Katrina Cottages all over the country. Many have realized that they can take on a variety of uses; there are both residential and commercial applications.


When the federal government announced that they would be allocating $400 million toward the construction of Katrina Cottages in Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, and Mississippi, many were hopeful; we could trade out those impractical trailers for modulated homes that are both attractive and functional.


But on December 21, Louisianans learned they wouldn’t be receiving the bulk of that funding. Indeed, despite the 75,000 people still living in FEMA trailers here in Louisiana and despite the miles and miles of destroyed neighborhoods, Louisiana will only be receiving around $75 million. The bulk of the funding, $280 million, will be directed to our neighbors in Mississippi. (Texas and Alabama will receive $16 million each).


Senator Mary Landrieu, understandably, was not satisfied. From the AP article:

The sum is far less than the state had sought, though, and Louisiana officials are accusing the Federal Emergency Management Agency of shortchanging the state after Sen. Trent Lott said his state, Mississippi, would receive $280 million of the $400 million allocated for the pilot program.

Landrieu said hurricanes had destroyed more than 205,000 homes in Louisiana compared to 61,000 homes in Mississippi.

“Under FEMA’s upside down decision-making, Louisiana gets the short end of the stick for alternative housing programs by almost 4-to-1, despite suffering more than three times the housing loss,” she said in a statement.


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