Brad Pitt-endorsed post-Katrina housing plan collapses


(NewsNation Now) — In 2006, actor and part-time New Orleans resident Brad Pitt unveiled “Make it Right,” a post-Hurricane Katrina project to rebuild homes in the Lower Ninth Ward.

Today, only six out of the 109 homes built for residents are in “reasonably good shape.”

Pitt himself even kicked in $5 million of his own money and raised millions more.

The project was designed to provide homes at no more than $150,000 to survivors of the hurricane at a cost of $26.8 million. The problems plaguing the homes include mold, termites and rotting wood.

Even worse, some homeowners are still stuck with mortgages on homes that are falling apart.

“… Rotten houses left with huge mortgages that honestly they cannot afford to keep continue paying and living in houses that are essentially rotten and should be torn down to the ground and started over,” said Ron Austin, an attorney for “Make It Right” homeowners.

Austin said he’s trying to make it right for the homeowners but is having a hard time holding the organization accountable — as even the website no longer works.

“There’s nowhere really to turn,” he said. “We’re fighting every day in court, attempting to get the foundation and officers and directors to come into court here in New Orleans and answer some questions as it relates to what went wrong, and how are they planning on making it right.”

Urban geographer Judith Keller told NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield some of the designs of the home don’t even make architectural sense for the environment.

“Seeing homes like that have massive mold infestation, termite infestation, structures that are just collapsing … like front porches falling off, and things like that. When you study housing, and then you see models that were designed to look great, but just don’t work in the subtropical climate of New Orleans,” she said.

Keller echoed Austin’s comments about the difficulty of trying to hold those responsible accountable.

“This is not public housing project or something. It was a nonprofit. And so the state of Louisiana or the city was not directly responsible,” she said.

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