Homeless & Housing
PO Box 58009
Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The slow reaction to the initial emergency and to the ongoing crisis exposed troubling realities about the response capabilities of the government when the citizens of our most culturally diverse city were in desperate need of help. When Brad Pitt visited the Lower 9th Ward for the first time after the storm, he was shocked by what he saw: the remnants of people's lives strewn across the streets and an entire neighborhood torn apart and turned upside down. Pitt was even more disturbed by the lack of a clear plan to address the situation. Many were quietly saying there was no chance the Lower 9th Ward would ever be re-built. In a series of community meetings, residents of the Lower 9th Ward told Pitt about the challenges their community faced, both before and after the storm. The rising cost of energy placed a strain on the low-income households of the neighborhood and residents expressed concern about worsening environmental conditions. Their concerns have been validated by scientists, who have concluded that climate change is increasing the frequency and strength of hurricanes. In addition, wetlands and barrier islands that once protected the coast have eroded, leaving New Orleans more exposed to storm surge. The residents of the Lower 9th Ward told Pitt that while the terrible crisis had exposed their vulnerability, Katrina had also created an opportunity: to build something better than what had existed before. Inspired by the courage and hope of the residents he met, Pitt resolved to do whatever he could to help them rebuild. Just as importantly, he wanted to help recreate and nurture the unique culture and spirit of the 9th Ward, which symbolized the soul of New Orleans. He understood instinctively that a New Orleans rebuilt without the 9th Ward would never be whole. He began by working with Global Green to sponsor an architecture competition to generate ideas about how to rebuild sustainably. Pitt worked with local community leaders and experts from around the world to develop viable ideas for the Lower 9th Ward. That successful project inspired Pitt's new focus: Make It Right.