New Orleans, La. – The St. Bernard Project founded in 2006 has rebuilt nearly 350 homes with help from 29-thousand volunteers. It expanded to help some residents in Orleans Parish, mostly in Gentilly and New Orleans East. Now the group is targeting the Lower Ninth Ward, where about 24 percent of the neighborhood is back, compared with 80 percent for most of the city. M.A. Sheehan is in charge of the new program, called, "House the Nine."
"One of the real questions in the recovery of New Orleans is the question - how's the Nine? If the Nine isn't back then New Orleans isn't really back, and so that's what we're working on."
Sheehan says the Lower Ninth effort will include new construction, and marked the expanded services with a groundbreaking on the holiday. Later in the day, Seventh Ward resident Mona Lisa thanked volunteers gathered outside her house that was officially finished on Martin Luther King Day.
"I'm living the dream because of the human spirit in the hearts of others, which are you all. So thank you so much for being here, and all y'all's support and all y'all's work, on timely work. I'm humbled. Thank you."
The St. Bernard Project also operates a free mental health and wellness clinic and job training in residential construction.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming.