Miss. awards bids for companies to make Katrina recovery cottages

Published 10:51 pm Saturday, May 26, 2007

Six companies have been awarded bids to build the first Mississippi Cottages, sturdier alternative housing units for the state’s coastal residents who are still living in government trailers nearly 21 months after Hurricane Katrina.

The Mississippi Cottage is the larger of two units that will be built. It comes in either a 700-square-foot, two-bedroom unit or an 850-square-foot, three-bedroom unit. The Park Model is the smaller of the two, at 340 square feet.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency awarded bids for the construction of the two-bedroom units to Lexington Homes of Lexington, Miss.; Cavalier Homes of Millen, Ga.; Deer Valley of Guin, Ala.; and Cavalier Homes of Addison, Ala.

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Those selected to build the three-bedroom cottages are Cavalier Homes, Deer Valley and Forest River of Wakarusa, Ind.

Five other Mississippi companies submitted bids for the project.

Each of the 950 units will cost between $48,500 and $51,400. Delivery is scheduled to begin in late June and early July.

Congress set aside $400 million for a temporary housing pilot program, and the federal government solicited bids from five states. Mississippi had the top two bids and is receiving $281 million for the construction of 4,500 cottages. The cottages are expected to withstand sustained 150 mph winds, or a Category 4 hurricane.

Residents can live rent-free in the cottages for at least two years before they would have to purchase them at market prices.

Forest River Housing was selected to build the first 200 cottages of the Park Model.

State officials said about 80,000 people are living in about 23,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers in Mississippi. Every month, about 1,000 trailers are emptied as families move into alternative housing. By the end of June, officials anticipate there will be about 20,000 trailers remaining on the coast.

Only a quarter of the trailers provided by the FEMA in the three coastal counties will be replaced this year with cottage-style homes, and those homes will be distributed only through a lottery.