Almost four years ago, residents of homes built by the Make It Right Foundation, a futuristic post-Hurricane Katrina housing development founded by Brad Pitt, sued the Hollywood superstar and his associates for defective design and building practices, breach of contract, and fraud.
Late Tuesday, attorneys for the Make It Right Foundation and the affected residents told Orleans Parish Civil District Court that they had agreed on a settlement meant to make all residents of the development whole.
Make It Right will pay owners of the homes it built in the Lower 9th Ward $20.5 million, according to court documents. Though only six homeowners are named in the lawsuit against Make It Right, the class-action lawsuit settlement applies to all of the homeowners unless they choose to opt out.
Category: Make It Right
The legal saga embroiling the Make It Right Foundation, the Brad Pitt-founded housing nonprofit formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, is entering what could be a messy new chapter.
As first reported by Doug MacCash for The Times–Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, the embattled foundation has sued former executive director Tom Darden III and other erstwhile top officials in New Orleans Civil District Court. The suit alleges that Darden and others misled fellow foundation leaders, Pitt included, and partook in widespread project mismanagement from 2007 through 2016. Per the suit, Darden and other former executives should be held responsible for any damages imposed by the court stemming from lawsuits over the “faulty construction or shoddy design” of Make It Right-built homes.
NEW ORLEANS — A judge has denied actor Brad Pitt’s request to be taken off a lawsuit that says his Make it Right Foundation built shabby homes in the New Orleans area that was hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina.
Pitt and other foundation directors asked the court to remove them from the lawsuit, saying they weren’t personally responsible for the construction.
Judge Rachael Johnson denied the request last week.
Two homeowners filed the suit. Their attorney, Ron Austin, says the homes built by the foundation in the Lower Ninth Ward have infrastructural issues and residents have reported being sick.
The allegations: Brad Pitt’s foundation is accused of building shoddy homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina
Austin says Pitt and the board of the foundation, which Pitt formed in 2007 after raising $42 million, have known about the problems since at least 2009 but have failed to fix them despite mounting complaints.
“We want to make Brad Pitt make it right,” Austin told USA TODAY. “He can’t leave these people helpless.”
Austin said the “tragedy” is that Pitt’s effort to help the flooded Lower Ninth after Katrina showed his “heart was in the right place” but his foundation has been “almost an epic failure.”
More than 100 green Make It Right houses were built in 2008. The foundation sued the principal architect last year saying his designs were defective.
Pitt’s rep declined to comment to USA TODAY on the recent development.
A federal judge has sent the ongoing cluster of lawsuits surrounding Brad Pitt’s Make It Right development in New Orleans back to state court.
The ruling May 15 moved the lawsuits against three former officers of the Make It Right Foundation back to Orleans Parish Civil District Court, according to a court document. The former Make It Right officials are accused of building substandard houses.
In the years after Hurricane Katrina, Make It Right built 109 experimental modernist homes in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward to replace those lost to flooding. Spearheaded by actor Brad Pitt, the altruistic nonprofit enterprise sold the houses to former residents of the area at affordable prices. The rebuilt neighborhood became a post-K tourist attraction.
Brad Pitt’s Make It Right venture turns 10, triumphant but troubled
The daring post-K recovery project produced 109 homes in the Lower 9th Ward, including one that neighbors say has become an abandoned, moldy eyesore.
But on Sept. 7, 2018, roughly ten years after the project began, two Lower Ninth Ward residents sued Make It Right, accusing Pitt and several officers of the company of building houses that are flawed and deteriorating rapidly. As a proposed class action, the suit is intended to represent everyone who bought a Make it Right house.
Attorneys for two New Orleans residents who sued Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation for allegedly selling them poorly constructed homes are asking a federal judge to deny Pitt’s request to be removed from the suit.
The lawsuit, filed in September and now being heard in the Eastern Louisiana U.S. District Court, alleges that Make It Right, a charity formed by Pitt in 2007 to help Lower Ninth Ward residents return after Hurricane Katrina, built “defective” homes that leaked, were filled with mold and fell apart. In their suit, the two residents, Lloyd Francis and Jennifer Decuir, accuse Pitt and Make It Right of unfair trade practices, breach of contract and fraud.
Pitt’s attorneys have denied the allegations, though they admit that there are problems with the homes, which they blame on the project’s architect in a separate lawsuit and which they said will take $20 million to fix.
In November, Pitt’s attorneys filed a motion requesting the residents’ claims against Pitt be dismissed and his name removed from the lawsuit. The attorneys argued that even if the claims were credible, Pitt wasn’t to blame for the construction and should not “simply be lumped together with other defendants and held liable for alleged conduct in which he is not even alleged to have participated.”
Neither Pitt’s attorneys nor Make It Right returned requests for comment. Attorneys for the Lower Ninth Ward homeowners declined to comment.
Hollywood leading man Brad Pitt’s Make It Right organization has sued New Orleans architect John C. Williams in Civil District Court for defective design work that led to leaks and other flaws in the experimental homes, dating back to 2009. Make It Right claims it paid Williams $4 million as the avant-garde project’s architect of record, who oversaw the construction of the 106 ecologically conscious, eye-catching designs.
According to the lawsuit, filed by attorney Victor J. Franckiewicz, Jr., repairing the damage caused by rain and humidity could run Make It Right $20 million.
Starting in 2006, Pitt used his celebrity clout to establish a charity that replaced houses destroyed by the catastrophic flooding that accompanied Hurricane Katrina at affordable prices tailored to displaced residents. The endeavor, which used house plans by architectural superstars such as Shigeru Ban, Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry, was certainly one of the most audacious post-K recovery projects.
Brad Pitt’s foundation is looking at a major lawsuit over the degradation of homes built in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The forthcoming lawsuit against Pitt’s Make It Right foundation will be filed on behalf of some Lower Ninth Ward residents who, according to what attorney Ron Austin told WWL-TV, have reported sicknesses, headaches and infrastructural issues.
Pitt founded the venture in 2007 with the help of award-winning architects two years after Katrina devastated the city and essentially washed away what would become the Make It Right enclave.
Since 2000, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, has celebrated the best the American design industry has to offer with the National Design Awards. Created to help recognize “excellence, innovation, and enhancement of the quality of life,” this year’s award winners feature a who’s who of architects and designers like Moshe Safdie, Bruce Mau, and Geoff McFetridge, to name a few.
While names like those certainly ring a bell among the design community, the 2016 National Design Awards is enjoying the rare ability to appeal to America’s Hollywood fan base as Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation took home the esteemed Director’s Award. Don’t roll your eyes just yet — the nonprofit he created in 2007 constructs homes and buildings for people in need. In other words, Pitt and Make It Right deserved the award.
Aside from Pitt’s inherent star power, the National Design Awards also doled out a handful of acclaimed honors to the best and brightest in the field of design. As touched on above, Moshe Safdie nabbed the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award for his continued innovation as an urban planner and his propensity for socially responsible design. Additionally, New York City’s Center for Urban Pedagogy took home the Corporate & Institutional Achievement award for its work to increase meaningful civic engagement, most notably among historically underrepresented neighborhoods.
“The National Design Awards program celebrates design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world,” reads the Cooper Hewitt website. “[It] seeks to increase national awareness of design by educating the public and promoting excellence, innovation, and lasting achievement.”
Samsung hosted its annual star-studded Hope for Children benefit gala (#SamsungGives) today featuring celebrity guests Ben Stiller, Tony Bennett, Josh Lucas and Rob Thomas. The event, held at the Manhattan Center in New York City, honored Samsung’s guests and partners, including Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation, who have helped to improve children’s lives and communities in the United States.
“Tonight’s gala pays tribute to building hope for children around the world by providing access, applying innovation to solve problems, and raising awareness in health, education, and community impact.”
With more than 700 guests in attendance, the event raised $2 million to benefit children’s health and education programs. One hundred percent of the gala proceeds and additional funds raised by Samsung throughout the year under its Hope for Children initiative go directly to the charities. New to this year’s gala, lucky Galaxy Samsung+ members were invited to attend an exclusive gala party and live music showcase featuring Nick Cannon and Icona Pop followed by a concert performance by Demi Lovato.
Make It Right, founded by Brad Pitt, was honored with the “Champion of Hope” award for the organization’s efforts building hundreds of solar-powered, affordable homes for families in need around the United States. Ben Stiller presented the award to homeowner Leslie Archie, who talked about her journey and the impact the organization had on her community, the Lower 9th Ward, after Hurricane Katrina.
The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall on New Orleans is around the corner on Aug. 29, and Brad Pitt’s Make It Right organization plans to honor the day with the unveiling of a new tiny home.
Founded in 2007, Make It Right’s mission is to help build homes, buildings and communities for people in need, all with a focus on green living. Since it began, teams have built 109 LEED Platinum-certified homes within a 20-block area of the Lower 9th Ward, a neighborhood that was absolutely devastated by the hurricane in 2005. This will be the organization’s first tiny home.
According to a blog post by communications director Taylor Royle, the 496-square-foot high-tech mini house will have two stories. A living room, full kitchen, full bathroom and washer/dryer for laundry will be available downstairs, while the upstairs will hold the bedroom, closet and work area/desk.
It will also have solar-power, energy-conserving appliances and recycled countertops, among other environmentally-friendly features. And of course, hurricane-resistant features will also be incorporated.
The origin story of the collection of angular, brightly painted homes called Make It Right has become a piece of New Orleans lore. The Lower 9th Ward neighborhood near the Claiborne Avenue bridge was more or less wiped out by floodwater surging through a gap in the levee wall in 2005. Then, as if by Hollywood magic, Brad Pitt appeared to attempt to rebuild it. At the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the flood, 109 homes stand where there once was only mud and wreckage. More homes are on the way.
“I’ll tell you, every time I drive over the Claiborne bridge, no matter what frustration I might be dealing with at the moment, I get this well of pride when I see this little oasis of color and the solar panels,” Pitt said in a telephone conversation Friday (Aug. 15) from Los Angeles.
An ecologist, architecture enthusiast and part-time New Orleans resident, Pitt called on the top building designers of the region, nation and world to draw up houses with striking appearances that married advanced environmental practices with affordable building methods. He also founded a nonprofit organization to see that those design gems rose on the empty landscape.
“I drive into the neighborhood and I see people on their porch,” Pitt said, “and I ask them how is their house treating them? And they say, ‘Good.’ And I say what’s your utility bill? And they’ll throw something out like, ’24 bucks’ or something, and I feel fantastic. It’s a reminder of why we’re there. It’s a reminder of why we push like we push. It makes it all worthwhile.”
• x001 Magazines – The Times Picayune.
Actor Brad Pitt didn’t have much experience with financing forgivable loans when he built his first home in the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Lower 9th Ward in 2008.
But seven years later, Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation has gained worldwide attention for the eye-catching home designs and “green” building features — such as solar panels and rainwater collectors — that it has incorporated into a growing development for low-income residents seeking to return to the neighborhood.
“I walked into it blind, just thinking, ‘People need homes; I know people who make great homes. Let’s solve this problem of the inequality and low-income housing in a place that’s been ravaged by the environment,’ ” the 51-year-old Pitt said Friday in a telephone interview.
Although Pitt and his wife, actress Angelina Jolie, put their French Quarter mansion on the market earlier this year, he said they’re not planning to leave the city for good and may buy another home in time.
A decade after Katrina’s floodwaters destroyed more than 5,300 homes in a neighborhood once known for having the highest rate of black home ownership in New Orleans, Pitt’s efforts have paid off: His foundation has spent $26.8 million to build 109 homes in a 20-block area.
In part because of his efforts, the neighborhood has managed to bounce back somewhat, though slowly. It now has about 37 percent of its population before the storm — a lower figure than most other devastated parts of the city.
Though he said there’s still work to do, Pitt considers the Make It Right development to be an example of how to rebuild in a neighborhood that some city and federal officials had suggested should not be rebuilt at all in the storm’s aftermath.
He called it “an oasis of color, an … oasis of how to build with dignity for low-income housing, and I see it as a template for how we can build our cities and certainly our neighborhoods in other areas in the future.”
• x002 Magazines – The New Orleans Advocate.