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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- Dozens of New Orleans musicians and their families displaced by Katrina moved into newly built the Upper 9th Ward homes. The partnership with Habitat For Humanity was aimed at keeping our musical culture in the city.

Now some residents say their homes are falling apart.

'We've got a nice cushy neighborhood, but your home is rotting in front of you,' said homeowner Rhonda Ford.

Rows of vibrantly painted homes make up the Musicians' Village. The development is where Ford purchased her house back in 2009 and is now locked into a 30-year-mortgage.

The first-time home buyer was a supporter of Habitat for Humanity and its mission to help low-income families get a permanent roof over their head. She has had a change of heart.

'It's still a great cause, but you have to do things right and in order. You cannot put up stuff. It's misuse of people's donations,' said Ford, who is frustrated by signs of rotting wood on window trims and her front steps.

In July, she paid more than $300 for a home inspection confirming her biggest fears. She has reached out to Habitat for Humanity only to be told her property is no longer under warranty. Ford says estimates show it will cost around $2,000 to replace the rotten wood.

'Basically for New Orleans the type of wood they use is going to not only make my home rot, but my neighbors in this area and anywhere Habitat built,' said Ford.

Neighbors like trumpet player Shamarr Allen are experiencing the same thing.

'It's bad,' he said, pointing to his front stairs. 'It's like a sponge.'

Two years ago, Allen considered building an extension onto his house but was told by contractors that some of the decaying wood had to go. So, the musician says he reached out to the builder.

'I called Habitat and told them that the wood was bad and they changed one board, on one board window. They said they were coming back and never came back and finished the rest of it,' said Allen.

Habitat for Humanity says prospective home buyers are required to take classes that include financial fitness and basic upkeep of a home.

'We reiterate to all homeowners, you gotta take care of your house, caulk it, seal it, if you see anything that's not looking at 100 percent right. Look at it and treat it then,' said Aleis Tusa with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

The organization confirms it is familiar with Ford's complaints but defends its building practices.

'All our buildings is to code. We go through the same city inspections that everyone else goes through. Everything we feel is built really well,' added Tusa.

Habitat for Humanity also says it does respond to homeowners' concerns. One example was shelling out $12 million to help remediate Chinese drywall concerns across the metro area -- drywall that temporarily displaced both Ford and Allen. Now both homeowners are facing rotting wood that they believe doesn't make sense in homes just a few years old.

'Everything else is cool as long as they come and take care of their problems. It's not like this is stuff that just started happening,' said Allen.

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