Residents Search For Affordable Housing Solutions

Dr. Hank Roberts of Saint Martin believes he's found the ideal alternative to FEMA trailers and Katrina Cottages.

"I examined all of those. I went and checked on trailers, and checked on different cottages, checked on different houses," Roberts says.

After his waterfront home was erased from his property, he had to consider what to build back in its place. What he finally picked was a Steel Magnolia.

"It's not great big, but if you look at this, this area right here is almost as big as some of these trailers that they have."

Built by a Florida Company called Master Steel , the 600-square-foot steel and concrete structures are being marketed as fast, solid, adaptable, and cost effective solutions to the housing shortage.

The owner of Master Steel, Ed Kologinski, says, "We came down here to help these people out with a cheaper home and good way of life and with this $29,000 house. I think we hit the nail on the head for these people."

The walls can withstand 150 mile per hour winds.

"The wind load is there. It's built for the wind," Master Steel co-owner Teddy Ashley says.

"It's built with screws and bolts and it can be taken apart. It's a big erector set."

Dr. Roberts plans to eventually build a steel-framed house on his original lot. However, two Steel Magnolias will remain as models for his neighbors and others to examine and consider.

"I'm worried about people being able to come and see the construction and the workmanship and the things that can be had for a very little amount. I get nothing out of it. I'm not going to rent these. I'm not going to sell these. I just really wanted people to see what could be had," Dr. Roberts says.

The basic $29,000 Steel Magnolia comes fully finished with fixtures and flooring and, with heat, air conditioning, an oven, and a refrigerator. And it can be completed in four to six weeks.