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Brad Pitt Foundation reaches settlement over Louisiana housing

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Baton Rouge (AP) — Brad Pitt's Make It Light Foundation and homeowners of homes built by the program are raising $20.5 million in the New Orleans area hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. A settlement was reached.

The Times-Picayune' The New Orleans Advocate said on Wednesday, pending judge approval, that each of the 107 homeowners in the program will receive reimbursement for previous repairs to their poor homes. He reported being eligible for $25,000. Under the settlement agreed Tuesday evening, the remaining money is to be split according to the state of each structure.

The settlement represents a major milestone in the long-running saga of homes that have been plagued with leaks, rot and other deficiencies.

In 2007, two years after Katrina ravaged Louisiana's most populous city, the Hollywood celebrity founded a futuristic housing development organization. The goal was to replace the lost homes in the city's 9th Ward, which was left in ruins by flooding, with 150 avant-garde homes that are storm-safe and energy efficient. Housing was provided for an average of $150,000 to residents who received resettlement funds, government grants, and donations from the foundation itself.

The project was initially lauded, but after 10 years and more than $26 million he spent, construction was halted. Residents reported sagging porches, mold in the wood, and leaking roofs.

Make It Right has admitted to architectural flaws at least twice. First, in 2015, a lawyer representing the organization sued a manufacturer of eco-friendly, water-resistant lumber for his $500,000.

In 2018, attorneys for Make It Light sued her company's managing architects for alleging multi-million dollar design flaws. In 2021, the organization also sued its former executive director and former treasurer and other officials, accusing them of mismanaging the project.

As residents complained more, they filed a class action lawsuit against Make It Light in his 2018. The lawsuit alleged that many of the homes were poorly built with inadequate materials. Some of the homes suffered from leaks, rot, structural damage and mold, according to the complaint. The suit also listed heating failures, cooling and ventilation system problems, electrical malfunctions, and plumbing accidents.

Tuesday's settlement papers noted that liability for housing defects was "hotly contested." Representing residents in lawsuit against Pitt and his charity. Lawyer Ron Austin framed the results in terms of David vs. Goliath.

"This is him one of those scenarios where the impossible became possible," said Austin.

The distribution of the settlement money to individual homes will be overseen by Global Green, a California-based non-profit organization dedicated to environmental issues. The Times-Picayune's The New Orleans Advocate reached out to Global Green for comment.