Brad Pitt Struggles to Make It Right in New Orleans

Brad Pitt's Make It Right foundation has built 90 cutting-edge homes in New Orleans' largely abandoned Lower Ninth Ward. Stores and services have stayed away, however, prompting many to wonder if the area will ever become a livable community again.

The 90 homes completed by Pitt's Make It Right foundation at a cost of $45 million were certainly built with the best of intentions, but their siting, cost, and drain on city finances have many questioning if the money couldn't have been better spent elsewhere, reports Lydia Depillis. With the homes struggling to find buyers, in a neighborhood struggling to recover, a Catch-22 has developed: "The neighborhood doesn't have enough residents to attract many stores and services, and prospective buyers end up elsewhere because the neighborhood doesn't have enough stores and services. So about 90 households, primarily elderly people like Guy, are living in futuristic homes that most Americans would covet, and yet there's not a supermarket—or even a fast food restaurant—for miles."

"It's hard to fault Pitt's intentions; there are worse uses for celebrity salaries and star power, and since Katrina he has been one of the few people to actually deliver on his promises," says Depillis. "But he's also put a stake in the ground in a place where it didn't make much sense for it to go, making it impossible for the city to focus its dwindling dollars in areas of the city with the best chance of the strongest recovery."

"The Make It Right homes are here to stay, though, with perhaps more to come. Now that the city has allowed this scattered rebuilding in the Lower Ninth, is there a chance the ward will not only recover, but grow into something better than the poor, crime-ridden place it's been for decades?"

Full Story: If You Rebuild It, They Might Not Come

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