Habitat builds homes for Gulf Coast victims

Poughkeepsie Journal

Friday 23 December 2005, 6:27 pm

By Larry Fisher-Hertz

Hardly anybody lives in Pearlington, Miss., anymore. Some people from the Hudson Valley hope to change that soon.

The little Gulf Coast town (official population: 1,684) was leveled by Hurricane Katrina, its inhabitants scattered to makeshift shelters, motel rooms and mobile homes provided by emergency workers.

The rebuilding of Pearlington has begun, and local volunteers from Habitat for Humanity will soon join the effort. Starting Feb. 12, about 20 men and women, led by Rich Taylor, director of the local Habitat chapter, will spend about a week building more-suitable emergency housing for the people of Pearlington.

Habitat for Humanity, a nationwide nonprofit agency, typically builds full-sized homes for low-income families who otherwise could not afford a home of their own. The homes the volunteers will build in Mississippi will be a little smaller.

"These are basic, 450 square-foot, one-story houses," Taylor said. "They're not designed to be permanent, but the idea is to get people out of some of the places where they're living now. Some of these people are disabled, and FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) put them in mobile homes that aren't handicapped-accessible."