Brad Pitt owes Katrina survivors an apology — and $20.5 million

His foundation pledged to build sustainable homes in New Orleans after the storm, but the construction left a lot to be desired.

KYOTO, JAPAN - AUGUST 23:  Brad Pitt attends the 'Bullet Train' stage greeting at Toho Cinemas Kyoto...
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Brad Pitt, like many a white gentrifier, loves New Orleans. The city’s unequivocal cool sings to him like a siren song that says, “laissez les bon temps rouler.” And so in relatively good faith, Pitt has bought property in the city and worked to bring film productions to Louisiana over the years. He also, like anyone with a soul (which excludes George W. Bush), wanted to help the city recover after the horrors of hurricane Katrina. He created the Make It Right Foundation, and pledged to build environmentally sustainable homes in the city’s devastated Lower 9th Ward. Well, he might have had good intentions, but it turns out that the homes were shoddily built, and now the occupants have been granted legal retribution for a job poorly done.

According to a report by The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate, the 107 homeowners are all now eligible for part of a $20.5 million settlement that Make It Right has agreed to pay. “Pending approval by a judge, each of the 107 Make It Right homeowners will be eligible to receive $25,000 as reimbursement for previous repairs made by the owners,” the story says. The rest of the money, after attorney’s fees, would be used to fix the structures’ problems — which include defects such as leaks and rot.

It would appear that the project has been mired in problems from the start. Despite lavish fundraisers that attracted attention and money from celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Ellen Degeneres, and Bill Clinton, many of the homes were abandoned and boarded up within ten years because occupants didn’t have the resources to fix the mold and collapsing porches. In 2015, Pitt’s foundation sued the sellers of the water-resistant wood that was used for $500,000. In 2018, they also sued their architect John C. Williams for creating the defective structures. They also have sued several officials for mismanagement. But ultimately, the foundation itself has to answer for its decisions that led to over 100 people living in poorly-constructed housing after an already terrible tragedy.