Report faults La. 'Katrina cottages'

Feb. 26, 2013 at 4:18 PM

BATON ROUGE, La., Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Legislative requirements meant for permanent housing increased costs and delayed "Katrina cottages" in Louisiana, a state audit report said.

The report released Monday found that the 461 "Katrina cottages" built by the state with a $74.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were more expensive than similar housing built by private groups, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported. The state auditor's office found many of the cottages were so poorly built, families living in them had to move elsewhere while they were repaired.

The report said the state did not set clear goals. While the FEMA program was intended to provide "intermediate-term" housing for families displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Legislature set requirements intended for permanent housing.

The cottages built by the state cost at least $53 more per square foot than similar houses built by non-profit organizations. The delays also meant the state had trouble finding occupants.

"Many of the cottages were constructed too late to serve the needs of the families displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, as most of the target population had found alternative housing solutions," the report said.

Many potential buyers had trouble getting loans, so Louisiana began offering the cottages as rentals or rent-to-own properties.

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