Spotlight on Make It Right: An Organization Bringing Sustainable Homes to Low-Income Families

Photo courtesy of makeitright.org

Photo courtesy of makeitright.org

August 29, 2015 marked the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a storm that caused severe destruction along the Gulf Coast and destroyed 5,363 homes in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward alone. Make It Right, an organization founded by Brad Pitt in 2007, is still working in the Lower 9th Ward to bring families back home. Since 2012 I have been a supporter of Make it Right and, as some of you consider which organizations to support during the holiday season and in the coming year, I wanted to give you background on this great organization that is doing important work.

So far, Make It Right has built 100 homes in New Orleans, all of which have earned LEED Platinum certification. With 50 homes to go, the organization has also expanded to other cities, bringing sustainable homes to low-income families in Newark, New Jersey; Kansas City; and Fort Peck, Montana.

The homes built by Make It Right are inspired by William McDonough’s Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy, which states that homes should use renewable energy, maintain and enhance water quality, and honor social fairness and human dignity. Make It Right’s homes produce more energy than they consume, employ water stewardship strategies such as pervious concrete, and they are all solar-powered. Most importantly, the materials used to build the houses are extremely high-quality, so the low-income families who buy them won’t need to constantly make repairs. Make It Right also provides financial assistance via supplementary loans and forgivable mortgages, ensuring that families can remain secure in their homes after purchasing them.

Manheim Park, Kansas City - Image courtesy of inhabitat.com

Manheim Park, Kansas City – Image courtesy of inhabitat.com

As they continue to build homes for New Orleans families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Make It Right is bringing sustainable, affordable housing to other cities as well. In Newark, New Jersey they have partnered with HelpUSA to build a 56-unit apartment building for disabled veterans which includes solar panels, a rooftop community garden, and services for residents such as computer rooms and a fitness center. Make It Right has also partnered with community leaders in Kansas City to rebuild the neighborhood of Manheim Park by constructing a housing and community complex containing an auditorium, gymnasium, job training center, grocery store, and several other resources to help the neighborhood thrive. They are also working with the Sioux and Assiniboine in Fort Peck, Montana to build 20 sustainable homes and create a sustainable master plan for the entire reservation.

Photo courtesy of makeitright.org

Photo courtesy of makeitright.org

In addition to working directly with communities to build sustainable and affordable homes, Make It Right has a publicly available online library of resources for those interested in green building. The Library contains information about solar power, best practices for insulation and HVAC systems, how to meet various sustainability standards, and more. They also host forums for those interested in sustainable, affordable design to ask questions, share information, and interact with leading professionals in architecture, design, and development.If you would like to get involved with Make It Right, you can take a tour of New Orleans or Kansas City sites. The organization is also looking for volunteers in both of these cities for help with landscaping, gardening, and light maintenance at construction sites. They are also accepting online donations and providing opportunities to make a monthly pledge.

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