Brad Pitt's foundation facing lawsuit over claims of 'falling apart' homes in New Orleans

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Brad Pitt (Credit: AP)

Brad Pitt’s charitable foundation is facing a lawsuit from residents of a housing project it built in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, following claims that some of the homes are now ‘falling apart’.

According to a report by the Associated Press, attorney Roy Austin is representing a number of home-owners in the Lower Ninth Ward, who bought the subsidised houses in 2008.

It’s claimed that residents have complained of ‘sagging porches, mildewing wood and leaky roofs’.

Others, according to WWL-TV, have reported ‘sicknesses, headaches, and infrastructural issues’.

Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation planned to build 150 houses in 2008, using award-winning architects, and with the onus on sustainability, renewable energy and insulation.

The solar-powered houses were then sold for an average of $150,000 (around £115,000), with grants to homeowners coming from government and also donations from the foundation.

But only 110 were eventually built, short of its target, and it later entered into a legal claim with the supplier of the deteriorating timber used.

One house, said to be ‘a tattered loaf of rotting wood, fraying tarpaulin and ominous open doorways’, and which had remained unoccupied for years, was demolished in June this year, hitting headlines

“Essentially, Make It Right was making a lot of promises to come back and fix the homes that they initially sold these people and have failed to do so,” said Austin.

Around $12,000 was spent on repairing each house in 2014, but it would appear to have been insufficient.

In an interview with the Times-Picayune in 2015, Pitt visited the project and said that he felt ‘fantastic’ about what had been achieved.

“I get this swell of pride when I see this little oasis of color and the solar panels,” Pitt told the newspaper.

“I drive into the neighborhood and I see people on their porch, 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 not known how many residents are set to join the lawsuit, though some residents added that without the foundation’s help, they would have struggled to buy any kind of home in the first place.

A statement released by the foundation in April this year read: “Our homeowners’ well-being and privacy are some of our top priorities and we work closely with them to address their concerns.

“Each situation is different and we are currently coordinating the necessary follow up with the appropriate parties to address any areas of concern.”

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