Having been involved with the MASSIVE amounts of money wasted building low-income multi-family housing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I believe that I might have a little insight into the solutions.
Mainly, do not build housing where there are no jobs. This seems like a no brainer to me, but we built twenty-two low income housing complexes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast where there were very few jobs other than construction work. While most people that are not involved with construction might think that a laborer would fall within the classification of low-income, nothing could be further from the truth. Even the person that is doing the cleaning on the typical construction project would not qualify for the housing that we built.
Not only that, but the apartments had an average per square foot cost that will never be recovered. They were not economically viable by any metrics.
In the news lately are even more terrible ideas about disaster housing. One idea was originally conceived to alleviate the problems experienced in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans from the levee failure. This idea has been modified because of the flooding problems in Pakistan. Not to put too fine a point on things, but you know what people being devastated in a flood don’t need? An entire house barreling down upon them in a raging flood.
This idea was also proposed for New Orleans after the failure of levees. I have another novel idea. Why not make BETTER LEVEES? Please keep in mind, these levees were constructed using the lowest, qualified bid process. Instead of trying to make housing to deal with outside failures of government or natural disaster, why not concentrate on the actual problems?
Or, if portable, quickly constructed temporary housing is desired, why not focus on making those quarters as portable and durable as possible in order to reuse them? Here is a good example of a very workable design.
By the way, the photo at the top of this post is Mississippi after Katrina. I wonder how successful a floating house would have worked in that example?