NEW ORLEANS —
It was 14-years ago the levees on the industrial canal failed, leaving the Lower 9th Ward unrecognizable.
In the wake of the destruction, actor Brad Pitt and then wife actress Angelina Jolie started Make it Right, a nonprofit aimed at rebuilding the area. It’s safe to say the plan didn’t go exactly as planned.
“One day, a nice stiff breeze is going to come and just blow it away,” said Stephy Clark, whose mother purchased a Make it Right home several years after Katrina.
Make It Right planned to build 150 modern energy-efficient homes and sell them at affordable rates to former residents. Clark says she noticed problems almost immediately, including rooting wood, water leaks and foundation issues.
“For a house that is less or just at 10 years old, that’s ridiculous to see this kind of damage,” said Clark.
Attorney Ron Austin has filed a lawsuit against the Make it Right foundation and several on their board of directors including Brad Pitt.
“We are at the anniversary of Katrina. For most, if not all of our clients, they are reliving a nightmare and their nightmare is this. Every month, they write a check to their mortgage company and everyday they come home to decaying home and there is no end in sight,” said Austin.
The lawsuit accuses Make it Right of building and selling substandard houses. After it was filed, Make it Right then in turn sued John C. Williams architects.
Today, Williams called the lawsuit baseless and insulting. WWL-TV tried to get answers from Make it Right but they were nowhere to be found at their Magazine Street office and their answering machine was full.
One Make it Right homeowner, Robert Green, says he has been in touch with Make it Right. Green wants nothing to do with the lawsuit. He has faith that Make it Right will make the repairs and says they have made plenty already.
“They are rebuilding this house from the ground up, changing everything that they had a problem with and actually coming back with more wood,” said Green, pointing to his neighbors house on Tennessee Street. “So it’s not like they are not trying to do anything.”
Others, like Clark, want to see more action now.
“I want the Make it Right foundation to make it right and these homes really need to be thrown down and rebuilt,” said Clark.
A hearing on the most recent Lawsuit is scheduled for October.