MEMA turns 171 cottages in a $2 million payday

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Around 250 potential home buyers gathered in Gulfport for a thrifty deal.  The state auctioned off 180 new and used MEMA cottages.

The pastel painted MEMA cottages that many have called a home away from home are getting a second life in a unique recycling program. Lee Crager is MEMA's deputy director. "This is really our way to just close this program out," Crager said. "Finish it out, and provide the long term housing."

The one to three bedroom cottages are on the auction block, with winning bids coming in at a fraction of what the state paid to have them built.

John Bounds bought three cottages. "These are the same as the stick built house down near Seaside, Florida that would go for $200 a square foot and you're out here getting newer ones for $15 a square foot," he said.

Bids are based on the condition of the cottage. Starting at round $8,000 all the up to around $20,000. While it's a steal for consumers, it's not a bad deal for the state either.

"The money can help us with other disasters, disaster housing," said Crager. "That's part of the grant funding that any of the funds received, it can be used for any disasters."

Once the cottages are won and paid for, the new owners take control. One of those new owners is Mike Frego. He bought six cottages at the auction. "We have a camp ground that we use. We've bought 5 so far that we use at the campground, and people love them," Frego said.

A total of 171 cottages were sold at this auction. That's $2.4 million that goes back to MEMA. Bounds knows what he'll do with his purchases. "I have a couple of lots, I have a place down in Grayton Beach, Florida and will use one as a guest cottage, and have one up around Meridian as a rental, and one as just a recreational camper for the deer camp," he said.

This was the third auction of MEMA Cottages. Unsold cottages go back into the program.

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