Rebuilding Jean Lafitte

New Orleans Habitat is committed to remaining when the cameras have gone.

The immediate aftermath of a storm requires a quick response that often draws in people from around the world. For a few weeks, the cameras will come and draw attention to the needs of hard-hit areas, desperate for basic necessities and signs of hope. But after the media leaves, there is always far more work to be done.

Sixteen years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf Coast, devastating communities and leaving parts of the state without power for months. In the town of Jean Lafitte, a community in southern Jefferson Parish on the West Bank of the Mississippi River, the people have faced many storms, but Ida’s winds and rains left significant damage and a bureaucratic quagmire that would be difficult to navigate in the best of times. So when philanthropist MacKenzie Scott made her tremendous $4.5 million donation to NOAHH, our first thought was how not just to rebuild in Jean Lafitte, but to build homes that would withstand the next storm.

New Orleans Habitat has partnered with Rural Studio at Auburn University to design homes that will meet the needs of a community like Jean Lafitte. With strategic partnerships, we are reducing the cost of the homes through donated services, components, and materials, and a remote location has been set up to coordinate our efforts there. In the coming years, NOAHH plan to build more than 40 homes with these new designs.

New Orleans area Habitat for Humanity celebrates the resiliency and recovery in Jefferson Parish at Habitat’s first home in Lafitte, followed by a seafood boil for the community.

“We had a trailer, we lost the trailer. Habitat is building us a house. Thank God for that. It is so wonderful. I just cannot express how wonderful.”

– Corrinne Percle, Jean Lafitte homeowner

Designed to Last

New Orleans Habitat partnered with Auburn University’s Rural Studio to design homes that would withstand the next storm. Some features include:

• Homes built to a Fortified Gold Standard.
• Engineered to tolerate stronger winds.
• Raised 12’ to 14’.
• Exterior uses coated metal instead of traditional siding.
• Tankless water heater.
• Donated air conditioning systems from Carrier Air Conditioning.
• Donated hurricane strapping from Simpson Strong Ties and taping from Huber Engineered Woods.

This new design will not only be more resistant to storms and floods, but will also help reduce the long-term cost of the home because of improved energy efficiency and materials that require less maintenance over time.

Community Support

Marguerite Oestreicher, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity Executive Director; Cynthia Lee Sheng, Jefferson Parish President; Larry Palestina, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity Board Member; Kellie Chavez Greene, Greater New Orleans Foundation Vice President for Programs; Karla Rivera, Greater New Orleans Area Foundation Chief of Staff; Isabel Barrios, Greater New Orleans Foundation Senior Program Officer; and Devon Turner, Greater New Orleans Foundation Director of Nonprofit Leadership and Effectiveness.

The Greater New Orleans Foundation and Jefferson Community Foundation joined NOAHH on the anniversary of Hurricanes Ida and Katrina to celebrate the start of New Orleans Habitat’s work in Jean Lafitte, announcing a combined $150,000 pledge.

“On the anniversary of both Hurricanes Ida and Katrina, the Greater New Orleans Foundation is thrilled to award an additional $75,000 grant to the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, matched with a $75,000 grant from Jefferson Community Foundation in support of Habitat’s recovery and rebuilding efforts” said Andy Kopplin, President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “After Ida struck, we were proud to support Habitat’s rebuilding program with an early grant of $75,000 and today’s announcement builds on that long term partnership and continues the Foundation’s commitment to long term recovery in the region.”