In the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, the nonprofit disaster recovery organization Make It Right is working to bring home residents of the community hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. Prior to Katrina, the Lower Ninth Ward was a neighborhood within the city of New Orleans rich in culture, civil rights history, and home to jazz musicians such as Fats Domino and Kermit Ruffins. The Lower Ninth Ward—which included a 98.3 percent black demographic—was also one of the city’s poorest districts, with 36.4 percent of the population living below the poverty line; 8.5 percent greater than the overall average of Orleans Parish.
According to Make It Right, 4,000 homes were destroyed in the Lower Ninth Ward as a result of Katrina. The death toll within the neighborhood accounted for half of all Katrina related deaths in the state of Louisiana as a consequence. Because the infrastructure of the neighborhood was all but entirely destroyed and because most residents lacked the resources to return to their homes, the Lower Ninth Ward remained largely abandoned for several years following Katrina. Until the emergence of large-scale rebuilding campaigns such as Make It Right, proposals of razing the remains of the neighborhood were seriously considered as an option within the civic sphere.
On December 3, 2007, Make It Right and organization founder Brad Pitt started a campaign to build 150 new affordable and environmentally sustainable houses, with the oversight of professional architects, in the Katrina-devastated Lower Ninth Ward for residents who otherwise lacked the means to return. In the years since, there have been several dozen new homes constructed in the neighborhood as well as hundreds repaired to living standards with the help of additional nonprofit efforts. In addition to building homes, Make It Right helping to restore the community with new micro-farms, roads and native landscaping.
You can get involved in the efforts of Make It Right to restore the lives of residents and the community of the Lower Ninth Ward in the aftermath of Katrina with a tax-deductible cash donation through the Make It Right website, or simply text “SAINTS” to 25383 to make a donation of $10 applied to your wireless bill.