Tampa man may have the solution for Harvey flood victims

AbleNook promises cheap, strong, affordable houses
Posted at 6:11 PM, Sep 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-01 18:11:56-04

Thousands of people have been displaced by torrential rains and catastrophic flooding since Harvey slammed into Southeast Texas last Friday.

Many of those people might struggle to find a new, permanent place to live for many months or years.

A Tampa man thinks he has the solution for this sudden need for good, but affordable housing 

It was an idea born after the last major storm to hit the Gulf states: Hurricane Katrina.

"The whole intent of this is that human dignity is being restored after a disaster. I don't think people are getting that kind of dignity from trailers," explains Sean Verdecia, who believes he and his team have come up with a solution. 

In a small warehouse in Ybor City, the USF grad is building what he hopes some people will soon call "home."

"We can put together furniture ourselves why can't we do that with housing," says Verdecia.

It's called AbleNook, a home that's relatively easy to put together, but is also cheaper than what FEMA buys for storm victims, as well as nicer and stronger.

"It's not intended to ride out a hurricane but if you were to leave it in place in the middle of one you might be able to expect it to be there when you come back," he says, noting that it should be able to withstand about 20,000 lbs. of downward force.

That would make it safer than many standard homes, let along trailer homes, and it solves a lot of the problems that come up in disaster zones, like uneven terrain.

Most notably, it comes together in just a few hours.

"No tools to put this together. You just push in the panels and its done," says Verdecia, who says he also sees wider appeal for these modular homes.

"Let's say your family grows over time. Your home should be able to grow with you but you shouldn't have to hire an army of contractors to come out and figure out how to do it for you," says Verdecia. He is trying to design a home that is both nice enough for people to want to live in them, but also affordable enough, and transportable enough, to be rolled out to people who need help.

With the disaster in Texas still unfolding, the start up is now speeding up their timeline, hoping to have these homes available for mass purchase by the Spring of 2018. 

People are already making orders for the homes, which are currently priced at $45,000, although Verdecia says the price may still change slightly once parts are being ordered.