Rebuilding Together New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
Award Type: Honor Award
After Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans in 2005, elderly and disabled low-income residents of the Crescent City were never more vulnerable. The storm's wind and floodwaters had damaged 80 percent of homes citywide, with poorer neighborhoods especially hard hit. In the midst of despair came hope in the form of a band of determined volunteers and staff members who make up the nonprofit community group Rebuilding Together New Orleans. In just four years, the organization, in partnership with the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, has leveraged volunteer labor with public and private sponsorships to make a $7 million impact through the rehabilitation of 217 properties, which has aided 443 residents.
For the elderly clients of Rebuilding Together, whose average age is 70 and average annual income is $14,500, the challenge of repairing their storm-damaged homes was almost insurmountable. Without the assistance of Rebuilding Together, homeowners would have remained displaced, and properties throughout the city would have been demolished. Instead, historic neighborhoods such as Holy Cross in the Lower 9th Ward are experiencing a steady comeback, providing a model for how a community can rebound after a major disaster.
"Rebuilding Together New Orleans is the poster child demonstrating that rehabilitating historic housing is the most sustainable way to revitalize a city and its vibrant communities," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "As one of America's most distinctive cities struggles back from a devastating disaster, its most at-risk citizens have found a champion in this partnership effort between Rebuilding Together and the Preservation Resource Center."