Thursday, September 27, 2012

Build It Right Make it Right


I was reading my online copy of Green Builder mag and they were proud of their attendance at the star studded opening of the homes built by Brad Pitt's Make It Right foundation.

Now in my contrarian fashion (okay cranky) I am always suspect of foundations, particularly any with celebrities attached. But then every now and then I am surprised and pleasantly so.

The Make It Right foundation did have a major competition to design and ultimately construct new afforable and more importantly sustainable homes after the destruction of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricaine Katrina. And of course its packed with the requesite designer divas, I mean Architects, but also local people who know first hand what it means to live and work in New Orleans. The goal was to make the area, once the poorest in New Orleans, the greenest.

Their mission is clear and plainly stated:

Beyond building new homes for residents who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, Make It Right is a unique laboratory for testing and implementing new construction techniques, technologies and materials that will make green, storm resistant homes affordable and broadly available to working families in communities across America

The Make It Right program is designed to help Lower 9th Ward residents become homeowners. The buyer is expected to contribute as much of their own resources as they can to cover the purchase price of the home. The average price of a single family home is $150,000; the average price of a duplex is $200,000. Prices vary based on home sizes and designs.

The average resident contribution to date (cash at closing) has been $75,000, usually made up of grants from Road Home, other programs, and outside mortgage financing. Make It Right provides financing to cover the gap. Make It Right offers the following financial products:

Soft seconds – loans with no payments and no interest that are forgiven over a period of time in exchange for the homeowner’s commitment to remain in the home as an owner-occupant

Affordable mortgages – qualifying applicants who can afford monthly mortgage payments but do not qualify for a mortgage from a private bank.

My beloved Treme returned on Sunday night. And I love the work of David Simon, a master story teller telling a masterful story of what it means to Re-build America. Its not just the structures, its the people. I cannot reiterate more how important is to hear all the voices in the city and the streets despite the din and the message. No matter if we agree we have the right to be heard and respect the difference.

The homes are LEED certified... frankly my one complaint, why that matters or is necessary is to me money spent on better needed things, such as ensuring that jobs are there, that the groceries, drug stores and other essentials of an infrastructure to make a community a living one. All buildings are living and green when people occupy them.

I am hopeful and excited that these efforts show that people regardless of what &% they belong that they belong to somewhere. A community can be your next of kin too.

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