Biloxi Woman Wants Permanent Cottage Home

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A Biloxi woman wants to convince city leaders that her Mississippi Cottage would make a fine permanent home. But so far, she's had little luck.

Mary Rose Leahy says the cottage home suits her needs just fine. Still, she needs local government approval before buying the unit.

The elderly Biloxi native says MEMA is willing to sell her the cottage for a permanent home. But the Biloxi City Council must first give the okay to allow cottages to become permanent structures. And that's a tall order right now, since the city council tabled the issue a few weeks ago.

"And this is what I'm thinking: If I could get this, it would be a very reasonable solution," said Mary Rose Leahy, after giving a guest a tour of her comfortable cottage home.

To her, it makes perfect sense. She'd love to make her Mississippi Cottage on First Street at Point Cadet a permanent home.

MEMA is giving some cottage residents a chance to buy the units.

"I mean why wouldn't we? They're well built. The insulation is wonderful. They have a metal roof. I have everything in it," she said.

The hang up rests with the city council. Local governments must agree to allow permanent cottages.

"If I don't get this house, then I'm going to have to build, okay? Number one, my funds are going to be limited. So, I don't know if I could build something this big," says Leahy.

The idea of allowing the cottages to become permanent homes has been discussed by the city council in a workshop, but the council has not yet voted on the issue.

City Councilman George Lawrence represents this neighborhood. He opposes the idea of allowing the cottages to become permanent. Councilman Lawrence says from the beginning, the cottages were designed to be temporary housing only. He told WLOX News he'd like to see some sort of government assistance that would help residents construct traditional stick built homes instead.

MEMA spokesman Jeff Rent told WLOX News, "We're not going to force these units into areas they're not wanted. The original intent was never to make them permanent. They were always designed to be temporary."

MEMA designed the program to sell the cottages to residents who received them. One willing buyer in East Biloxi is hoping her city council will come through.

"It is kind of like living in limbo. You can't really do anything. I mean you can live, but you can't do little things you want to make it your house. Your home," said Leahy.

Councilman Bill Stallworth is the biggest proponent of allowing cottages as permanent structures. Stallworth said, "If we can keep people in housing, why wouldn't we?"

He says he will bring the issue before the city council again, possibly by the end of this month.