These pictures were taken by my friend Christy as we drove around the Ninth Ward and into St. Bernard Parish. Read this sign carefully. They are going to demolish this house without letting the owner know. Of course, the owner might not want to come back, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of stories about families finally arranging the money to gut and renovate their houses and coming home to find the city has already demolished it. Often this happens in the name of Health- meaning someone out there has deemed the house un-fixable, unhealthy. It's a very shady issue.
So, we wanted to find Brad Pitt's Make it Right project. We saw it as we were already on the bridge going back to Uptown, so we turned around. You can spot these houses from far away; they look like nothing else in the neighborhood. One thing that is striking about the areas in the Ninth Ward where all that's left of houses are the cement foundations, is how nature is taking the area back. Weeds have grown taller than people, the space looks wide and isolated. It's hard to believe what seems like a country road was once a densely packed urban neighborhood.
Brad Pitt is helping some families take their lots back and build houses that are both ecologically friendly and higher on stilts, so hopefully they will survive the next big storm.
While I think Pitt's heart is certainly in the right place, and the houses really are amazing to look at, there is one problem I have: the cost efficiency problem. In Pitt's effort to make the houses ecologically friendly, which really might not be a top priority for families that just want to move home, the cost is quite high. To sponsor an entire house would be $150,000. In contrast, to sponsor a Habitat for Humanity home would cost around $85,000, (this is according to each organization's website). It's expensive to make a home "green." The solar panel alone costs $25,000. Might this be imposing his priorities and conditions onto a somewhat desperate situation? Then again, I'm sure he felt if he was going to help at all, it had to be the very best, all the way. That was my only complaint. It is an impressive project and I imagine the families in the homes are very happy with the outcome. I really do commend Pitt for doing this.
The Make it Right houses sit very close to the levee.(thanks for the correction)