Developers Trying To Meet Housing Demands

When contractor Terry Mobbs began building Wrigleyville on 55th Avenue in Gulfport last summer, he knew the three and four bedroom houses wouldn't stay empty long. The mortgage cost about the same as rent and affordable housing was in short supply even before Hurricane Katrina. Since the storm, Mobbs can't get the houses up fast enough.

"Demand is incredible. Since the storm the average cost of the home went up probably $5,000 due to material. We haven't actually bumped our profit up any. But what we are looking at doing is building as fast as we can, because as fast as we're building, people are buying them," Mobbs says.

With such high demand, Mobbs is glad he decided before the storm to expand his development to add another 50 houses. Those will go slightly higher than the original dozen that withstood the storm.

"Probably about three to five percent to cover the cost of materials and subs a little more, but we're in the ballpark of about 115, in that area, 120."

Across town at Washington and West Pine Streets, duplexes are filling up these lots.

"We're building eight units, each one is a duplex each side has three bedrooms two baths living room dining room," says New Orleans developer Angelo Selby.

He says the duplexes won't be finished until April, but he's already sold them all and looking ahead to other projects in Gulfport and Long Beach.

"I can not even think about how many will be built. I really can't, no way. It's just so great and it's not going to stop. It'll be here for many years."

Gulfport's Urban Development Director George Carbo says the storm destroyed 3,000 homes in the city. Carbo says they gave builders a challenge: to have 500 new housing starts underway six months after Katrina. So far 286 single unit housing permits have been issued.