The St. Bernard Project is announcing a $100,000 grant from Toyota to continue building and rebuilding homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The non-profit is even more grateful for training it received from the car manufacturer.
St. Bernard Project co-founder Zack Rosenberg says that for the past nine months, executives from the Toyota plant in Kentucky have been traveling to the New Orleans area to help streamline the construction process. The time it takes to rebuild a home has dropped nearly 50 percent.
“That’s impacting people’s lives. We’re not talking about profit here. To the extent that we’re more efficient, that means more American families we can move home.”
The St. Bernard Project has rebuilt almost 425 houses in the Greater New Orleans area. There’s a waiting list of 130 clients, and up to five new applications are submitted every week.
Mike Goss is general manager of Toyota’s manufacturing operations.
“Toyota could write big checks to something like this and just hope it’s going well," said Goss. "But we think our expertise is much more valuable than the money because it gets clients back in their homes faster.”
The St. Bernard Project is working with groups in Joplin, Missouri, to help with recovering from last year’s tornado damage. And Goss says this week’s deadly tornadoes means more help is needed for rebuilding.
“It feels like your swimming upstream when you see these things happen. How fast are those people going to get into their homes when we’re still six years into this here in New Orleans? So, we want to see it sustained and as much as we need to be involved, I think we’ll probably be involved.”
Toyota is announcing its cash donation at the New Orleans house of a woman who fled Katrina with her children to Texas, and is just now moving back home.