Thursday, February 14, 2008

Toxic Katrina Trailers

Today the CDC has reported that the air inside the trailers used to house displaced Hurricane Katrina victims contain toxic levels of formaldehyde. The levels inside the trailers can cause respiratory and other health problems.

Understanding fully the difficulties of housing such a large number of families — I’m I'm still left scratching my head. Hurricane Katrina hit the US in August of 2005. Why are people still living in trailers? This is baffling to me when there are a vast array of solutions to these housing dilemmas that are just not being utilized. Instead of adding to the chorus of voices criticizing the missteps of the past, I thought we would look at some of the options to improve the situation.


Brad Pitt and the Make it Right 9 project plans to build 150 homes in the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. They are off to a great start with 78 of 150 homes financed. You can donate to this cause on the Make it Right website and remember it’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up. There are some great designer green homes going up in the 9th Ward. They are really quite innovative including being built on slightly elevated stilts to aid in future flood survival. Check them out.


I have touched on Katrina Cottages in a previous post, but they certainly warrant a more in-depth look here. The Katrina Cottage 1 at 308 square feet is far from being spacious. It is, however, a real permanent dwelling that can be built for $70,000. The cost of this original cottage is less than that of the toxic trailers. It was intended to be a very inexpensive, attainable structure that could be later attached to a larger home. The plan is a great solution to get people in homes and allow them the opportunity to add more space later. These cottages are also available in a verity of sizes from the original 308 square foot up to a fully accessible version at 1,182 square foot. I also like that you can buy the kits — some are just pre-cut lumber and others are panelized prefab structures or the plans. The best part is you can buy them at your local Lowe’s.