Brad Pitt has been partnering with Fort Peck, Montana Sioux and Assiniboine nation tribes to build 20 super green homes for residents whose income levels are at or below 60 percent the area’s mean income, with a percentage of the homes reserved for seniors and disabled veterans.
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When Pitt isn’t jet-setting to movie locations and being a father of six (three biological and three adopted), he’s running a non-profit, Make It Right.
His organization has been most notable for building 150 sustainable homes in Louisiana’s Lower Ninth Ward post-Hurricane Katrina.
“We hear stories from people who have nine families living in a five bedroom home and take ‘sleeping shifts’ to share the limited beds,” writes Make It Right communications director Taylor Royle. “Most homes are smaller, one or two bedrooms. We [met] a woman who shares a two-bedroom home with her elderly mother and her brother’s family—she and her three children sleep on the floor in the living room.”
Now, through a Low Income Housing Tax Credit Rent-to-Own program, residents in his Make It Right American Indian homes will be able buy their new green homes after 15 years of renting.
“These LEED Platinum, solar-powered homes will have three or four bedrooms and two or three bathrooms each, and built with certified Cradle-to-Cradle vendors, which means they’re developed responsibly and use reclaimed materials,” reports NationSwell. “It’s certainly a big improvement from some of the current homes on the reservation, which are rife with black mold and structural problems, resulting in high utility bills due to inefficient design.”
Using participatory democracy principles, Pitt’s organization organizers met with families and community leaders about their needs and their vision for their new homes, and how the builders can preserve the culture of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, such as doorways facing east or north and using tribally significant colors.
“We are enthusiastic about these home designs that reflect traditional life ways while exemplifying deep green public-impact architecture,” said Architecture for Humanity architect Nathaniel Corum.
Fort Deck, America’s ninth-largest Native American reservation, has over 6,000 tribal members living on the 2-million-acre reservation. Over 600 people are waiting for housing. That means overcrowding is all too common.
The Washington Post has reported unemployment is over 50 percent on the reservations, with approximately three out of every four children live in poverty, and the cycle of abuse imposed on the First Nation Peoples includes widespread problems with alcohol and methamphetamines exist in the communities there.
Make it Right donors are giving people a safe place to live, promote sustainable living and solar energy, and help those in need of reconstruction after natural disaster. Some options of donation are green gifts which include: solar panels, paint, native plants, Energy Star appliances, and more.
Average energy bills have decreased for the homeowners because of the green technology installed in the Make it Right homes. At first, the homes were only available to people whose homes were leveled from Hurricane Katrina but now, the green homes are accessible to teachers and first responders.
Lower Nine residents are still eligible and but the program is extending the offer of housing to others.
Pitt’s foundation employs lawyers, social workers, and loan workers to help the former residents of the Lower Ninth Ward whom many of which lost all documentation during Hurricane Katrina to get through the mortgage application process. The income of the applicants does not affect the applicant’s ability to obtain a home. The unsubsidized mortgage is designed to be no more than one third of the applicant’s income.
There have been problems with the New Orleans green homes, but Pitt and his followers are doing more than just trying to do the right thing. Brad Pitt and his foundation have given hope where there was none. They are doing what government could do, but is not.
While recognizing much more is needed aside from building green homes to fix reservation’s problems, Pitt and his organization members are helping to “make it right.”