Make It Right is in the midst of a project to rebuild homes in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, with a team of well-known architects who have designed “green” residences intended to be energy efficient and affordable.
“The stimulus money would be seed funding for an expansion of Make It Right,” said Trevor Neilson, Pitt’s philanthropic and political adviser.
In a high profile appearance that even drew live coverage on MSNBC, Pitt visited Washington in March to promote Make It Right, meeting with President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with an array of cabinet secretaries and other elected officials, including Shaun Donovan and Energy Secretary Steven Chu. With Pitt was producer Steve Bing, who has been a benefactor of his housing project.
The foundation was among 12 non-profits joining with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority to file an application last week for a total of $65 million through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If they get the funding, Make It Right would probably start spending the money in the spring of 2010. Depending on how many homes the foundation has built by then, it could be used to reach their goal of 150 homes in New Orleans or it could expand the program beyond that, said Kim Haddow, a spokeswoman for Make It Right.
In Newark, Make It Right is among a consortium of public and private entities led by the city, which is seeking $45 million in stimulus funds for a wide range of projects to redevelop demolished or vacant properties as housing, and to purchase and rehab abandoned foreclosed homes to sell or rent.
Make It Right’s portion of the Newark application — budgeted at $7.3 million — calls for it to produce a high-density, mixed-use 112 unit development at the entrance to the Fairmount Heights neighborhood that “will combine high quality urban design and world-class architecture, achieving the highest possible levels of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.” The proposal also includes retail space and plans for a 10,000- to 20,000- square foot community center to be operated by the Boys and Girls Club, as well as about a half-acre for a park.
Haddow said Make It Right was approached to be part of the application in New Orleans and Newark. In a statement, the org’s executive director Tom Darden said that “because everyone is trying to figure out how to build green affordably, there’s been a lot of interest in our engineering innovations, building materials and processes” from other builders, local communities and the administration.
Pitt launched Make It Right in New Orleans in December, 2007, in a collaboration that also included Graft Architects, Cherokee Gives Back and William McDonough and Partners. According to the org, 32 families are either living in a home built or under construction by the org’s efforts.
Photo: Pitt on Capitol Hill in March.