Brad Pitt’s Sustainable Housing Project Has Been A Disaster For Hurricane Katrina Victims

By DoD News Features - 141015-D-FW736-065, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37668549

Actor Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation got it all wrong, when they built sustainable homes for survivors of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina that haven’t managed to sustain the test of time.

Pitt launched and became the face of the organization in 2007, which sought to “improve the design and performance of affordable housing” with sustainable construction in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, after the area had been ravaged by the devastating hurricane.

The nonprofit reportedly spent $26.8 million to construct 109 homes designed by prominent architects, including Frank Gehry, which were built with reusable materials, then kitted out with solar panels and energy efficient HVAC systems.

The homes were then sold to displaced area residents at a loss, for somewhere in the ballpark of $150,000. The project was initially supposed to put up 150 houses between 2008 and 2015, but fell short by 41.

Not that many years later, only six of the homes remain in “reasonably good shape,” while the rest have been plagued with structural issues, rotting wood, and flood damage. Two have been demolished due to mold issues, six more have been boarded up and abandoned.

Residents have been battling with the organization, since it refused to Make It Right a second time and fix the host of issues caused by shoddy construction and poor design. The houses reportedly did not have the capability to stand up to the area’s humidity and heavy rainfall, with a flat roof design that lacked rain gutters, overhangs, and waterproofing. 

Lawsuits have been filed by many of the homeowners against Make It Right. Pitt himself, who was still listed as a board member in 2018, was also ruled liable by a judge. The organization has in turn filed litigation against former executives and architects for alleged project mismanagement. 

The foundation has seemingly become defunct, as it has not filed the required IRS annual report since 2018, and additional affordable housing projects in three other states have been abandoned.  

Despite the disaster of a situation, not everyone believes the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” star is at fault for the shoddy work. “I don’t blame Brad Pitt,” said one resident. “He had a vision to build low-income houses and get people back in the Lower Ninth Ward.”

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