How Brad Pitt’s Green Housing Dreams Turn into Nightmares for Hurricane Katrina Survivors


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Brad Pitt passed one of the first homes built in New Orleans by his Make It Right Foundation in this 2008 photo. Associated Press Photo / Alex Brandon

Brad Pitt Make it the right foundation Built 109 eye-catching, affordable homes in New Orleans for communities affected and displaced by many 2005 Hurricane Katrina.. Currently, this housing development is in turmoil. Most of the recently built homes are molds, termites, Corrupted wood, floods and other problems..

At least 6 people will be on board and abandoned.many Residents submitted Proceedings that is Still pending..That is Nonprofit organization that built a house Incorporating opinions from Frank Gehry and other prominent architects middle Many fanfare For the survivors of one disaster, then it pioneered another.

Structural and other issues Many residents are afraid of their health. Correct it, despite what the name might suggest, These issues have not been resolved Have Stopped supporting residents.. Instead, movie star-led nonprofits are clearly failing.

As Urban geographer studying housing development, I’ve been tracking the Make It Right tragedy since 2018, when residents involved the New Orleans City Council and tried to get city officials to inspect their homes. Since then, the situation has only worsened, highlighting the dangers that may accompany it. Non-profit housing development..

Stilt house

Stilt house

Probably sustainable housing

New Orleans is historically a black, low-income location Lower Ninth WardThis cluster of affordable homes, built between 2008 and 2015, was unusual for several reasons.Especially these dwellings Selling, not renting To their residents.

The The architect who created these houses also,”From the cradle to the cradleA philosophy centered around the use of safe and reusable materials, clean water and renewable energy. Every house has solar panels, Energy efficiency Air conditioning system.

Report correctly .Spend 8 million For housing. To build a house It did not reach the group’s original goal of 150 homesWas affordable Sold at a lower price than the cost of building themMainly about 0,000.

The Non-profit home developers say their mission “Improving the design and performance of affordable homes” and “sharing best practices related to the construction of such homes”.

Make it right Aiming to activate Lower Ninth Ward Connect people. For example, we built a community garden and held regular meetings for new homeowners.

A beige house with a crumbling pouch

A beige house with a crumbling pouch

Some of these structures aren’t 10 years old yet, but my data show that only six remain reasonably good. Most have been partially repaired or completely refurbished due to structural issues. Two were demolished Due to a serious mold problem.

Completely rehabed house

Completely rehabed house

Many homes lacked the usual essential functions such as gutters, overhangs, waterproof paint, and covered beams. All of this is necessary to withstand New Orleans. Subtropical climate and heavy rain..

Brad PittPraises the launch of this organization in 2007 and often Served as the public face For the next few years, he was still listed as a member of the board As of 2018..

Pitt’s lawyer claimed he couldn’t be sued for a home development failure, but the judge ruled that a movie star would do so in 2019. Remain as a defendant For his role as the founder and chief fundraiser of Make It Right.

“Completely in Shuraba”

I interviewed 11 residents and 7 city planning experts who worked on this case. In addition, we reviewed New Orleans real estate valuations and building permits and collected data on development and housing. During my stay in Lower Ninth Ward, I personally researched the development and mapped its current state.

Multiple residents told me that they were very excited to be part of the larger ones at first.

A resident of Make It Right, which I call Harry – promised anonymity to all the resident interviewed – did not solve all the problems he faced in his home during a major refurbishment. Had to move from.

“They got a second chance to get it wrong, rather than getting it right again,” Harry told me. “They made it twice.”

As of early 2022, six homes were vacant due to mold, rot, floods and various structural problems. Hannah, the first young homeowner, has left her Make It Right home, which was later demolished.

Only eight months after moving, Hannah told me. Her house was “completely confused.” Its flat roof could not withstand the heavy rains of New Orleans, causing massive water infestations and subsequent termite epidemics and mold.

Hannah suffers from health problems caused by toxic mold. “I always want to say that there is a silver lining, but in this situation many of her plans in her life have changed so much that the silver lining isn’t really visible,” she said. rice field.

Most of the residents I interviewed dealt with similar conditions of certain uncertainties.

They don’t know how long a home will last, whether exposure to mold is affecting their health, and at worst, what will happen to their finances if they lose their home.

“You can’t turn this off,” Harry lamented. “Sometimes I think I’m sitting on a time bomb in this house.”

Others have always described the feeling that the situation is “extremely stressful” and “used on the largest scale”.

They wonder who can ask for help at this point.

“The incredible disappointment was the lack of Make It Right, a setback from all forms of responsibility,” William told me.

Net of legal turmoil

If Make It Right fails to provide the support requested by the inhabitants Some homeowners Submission Proceedings..The proceedings are reportedly Still pending..

Some residents have also blamed local governments.

Claire, who tried to involve the New Orleans safety and permit department, said, “We also have problems with the city because people who are supposed to inspect (houses) and keep them safe did not. “.

Moving trucks are full of furniture and other items.
The Make It Right Foundation relocated its office on Magazine Street in New Orleans in December 2021. Judith Keller, CC BY-SA

Many of my efforts to reach out to get it right by mail, email, and direct visits remain unsuccessful. When I went to the New Orleans office in December 2021, there were no staff. Instead, I witnessed a mobile crew hired by the organization to move furniture and other assets to storage.

The organization is clear 990 formAnnual paperwork required by the Internal Revenue Service for all nonprofits, covering any year After 2018..Local media reported it Bank is suing it.. The website has stopped working, and the phone number contained in the 2018 IRS documents has stopped working. Even the reaper of the vacant Make It Right property told reporters that nonprofits owe him money. Make It Right is now suing several former executives And that Chief Architect Due to the alleged management error.

The Conversation US also tried to contact the Make It Right Foundation by phone and email, but failed.

To be correct Stopped similar affordable housing development It was work in Kansas City, and there was vacant lot left there. Non-profit organizations MontanaWhere Other legal issues Get up and New jersey..

Who will pay in the end?

One of Abandoned property It’s becoming a safety issue, The city is taking action to grab it.. Make It Right’s 2018 IRS Declaration Shows That It Was Spending By then more about legal services Than construction and maintenance.

This reflects the experience of the inhabitants who have not seen years of evidence that the organization is involved in the community. Many are starting to pay for repairs from their pockets, rather than waiting for non-profit builders to solve the problems caused by their crude construction.

“I did most of the work myself,” Mario told me. “The tiles on the ceiling of the porch had fallen and the wood was rotten, so I replaced it slowly, so I could afford it.”

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Despite their experience, some residents said they still believed that the founders of Make It Right had good intentions. “I’m not Brad Pitt’s fault,” said another resident, David. “He had the vision of building a home for the low-income and returning people to the Lower Ninth Ward.”

Non-profit home developers Build Affordable HomesMany questions remain regarding accountability in this case others, In places like Chicago and Washington DC..

Mismanaged housing development, even if built with high goals, only exacerbates the difficulties of the low-income earners they are trying to serve.

This article will be republished from conversation, A non-profit news site aimed at sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Judith Keller, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign..

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Judith Keller is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).