In the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans, Louisiana, and virtually wiped whole neighborhoods off the map, like the lower 9th Ward, many people admirably stepped up to try and help local residents rebuild and get on with their lives.
One of those is actor Brad Pitt, who teamed up with the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative and others to construct “well-designed, green, affordable homes” in the area, but as the years have progressed, many of the homes built have turned into utter disasters that are already falling apart and making people sick.
According to a recent report from NBC News, which sought to place the bulk of the blame on Pitt and his charitable organization Make It Right, the group had initially planned to build 150 new homes, but spent $26.8 million and only built 109 homes, many of which are now rotting and dangerous.
Poor designs, shoddy materials
A dozen 9th Ward residents have complained “of mold and collapsing structures, electrical fires and gas leaks. They say the houses were built too quickly, with low-quality materials, and that the designs didn’t take into account New Orleans’ humid, rainy climate.” Last week, two resident filed a lawsuit against the actor and Make It Right, alleging breach of contract and fraud.
The mold and mildew and rotting wood, which was brought on by the use of “green” untreated lumber and foolish flat-roofed designs submitted by celebrity architects that leaked in the rainy environment, are suspected of causing health problems for many residents of the Make It Right homes.
Problems began to arise almost from the get-go, and while the Make It Right organization initially attempted to address and correct those problems with patch-work fixes, the group had become less responsive to mounting complaints as time moved on.
Now the organization has all but disappeared in recent years — cutting staff and closing offices — leaving residents with unanswered questions and crumbling, moldy homes, causing some to break nondisclosure agreements they were required to sign or file lawsuits to try and truly “make it right.”
Pitt and the largely inexperienced people the organization had hired — not to mention the designs of celebrity architects unfamiliar with New Orleans’ climate — have received the bulk of the blame, but they weren’t acting alone in this venture.
Pitt noted in a 2010 interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he had become involved with various Clinton family initiatives and enlisted their help in the ambitious project to rebuild the lower 9th Ward with “green,” sustainable yet affordable homes for low-income residents.
Indeed, a news release from the Clinton Global Initiative in 2008 celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony for the Make It Right project, a ceremony that included former President Bill Clinton and hundreds of students involved in the CGI University program.
It is interesting that the media has decided to blame Pitt and his organization as the central problem in this ongoing issue, and it is worth noting that the NBC article neglected to mention Clinton’s involvement in the project at any point in their lambasting of Pitt.
Pitt and his charitable group may have taken the lead on this ambitious project, but they weren’t alone and it is sickening to some to see how the Clintons have once again escaped media notice for their involvement in this failure.