Brad Pitt is under fire from New Orleans residents who say the actor’s charity abandoned its promise to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward following Hurricane Katrina.
Pitt and his non-profit organization Make It Right pledged to build 150 new homes after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in 2005. Yet, a new report alleges construction stopped in 2016 after only about 100 homes were built.
Some residents living in neighboring homes are concerned by the condition of some of the now-abandoned homes constructed by Make It Right. Rotting wood and growing mold is not only unsightly, but has caused some to fall ill, sources to the Daily Mail.
Constance Fowler, who lived next to a Make It Right home, said one of its previous residents got sick after being exposed to mold. “Make It Right say this is the largest green community in the US where they’ve designed homes with solar panels, environmentally friendly insulation, construction material that is clean and healthy, but are they really?” Fowler said. “Look how many are boarded up now or abandoned? There wasn’t as many boarded up back then in 2014 when I bought my Make It Right home for $150,000, it was constant building work by the organization, they had a commitment and goal to build over 150 homes.”
Doris Wyman, a longtime Lower Ninth Ward resident, agrees with Fowler’s assessment of the homes built by Pitt’s organization and said she would be in dire straights if her husband Henry wasn’t a handyman. “Mr. Pitt was always here, every turn, the place next to mine was their office, and we’d see him. He’s disappeared, he’s not helping people truly in need,” Wyman said. “There was a social and moral responsibility for Make It Right, we have been let down, some of us more than others.”
Video published by the Time-Picayune show the forced destruction of one dilapidated Make It Right home.
Laura Paul, a board member of lowernine.org, a rival charity to Make It Right, was critical of Pitt’s strategy to revitalize the area. “It’s a shame, certainly I don’t think Brad Pitt’s intentions were anything but honorable. He’s a massive multi-million pound star, what is he going to know about dealing with housing and hurricanes? There’s very few of us that have lasted the 13 years since.
“Make It Right housing is very sexy. They weren’t cheap, people think that Brad Pitt came down and gave these houses away, that didn’t happen, they cost $150,000, that’s around market value,” Paul said. “It’s not like they gave them away, you’re talking about a company that went through $100 million, now try to even get them on the phone. I have no idea why now you can’t get hold of them.”
However, a source close to the Hollywood star denies the charity is no longer committed to rebuilding the area. “In addition to personally being there, he continues to dedicate significant time and financial support to this project,” said the source. “This is an ongoing project for both Make It Right and for Brad—who has personally donated his time and millions of his own dollars to ensure the community is revitalized and the project continues as scheduled.”
Prit’s foundation faced fire in 2016 after a promised project to develop homes in Kansas City stalled.
In February 2015, Make It Right announced plans to build as many as 50 new single-family homes, the Kansas City Star reported. Some community leaders slammed the star’s nonprofit after little progress was made nearly a year and a half later.
Brad Pitt has not issued a statement in response to the allegations against Make It Right.