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Brad Pitt’s New Orleans house-building charity under fire

Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt is pictured before pink stand-in structures where 150 ecologically-sustainable homes were set to be built on December 3, 2007 in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. Matthew Hinton/AFP/Getty Images

Brad Pitt‘s charity house-building project Make It Right is in turmoil, according to multiple reports of massive construction delays, shoddy homes, and the exodus of several top-level executives.

There are claims that one of its projects, in Kansas City, is woefully behind schedule and many of the senior staff have left the charity. The Kansas City project was supposed to start construction in May 2015, and it hasn’t even begun yet.

The Make It Right Foundation bought six parcels of land between August last year and February, reports The Kansas City Star.

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Residents said that the foundation’s director of innovations, Tim Duggan, left his position and it has yet to be refilled. Longtime CEO Tom Darden also left the foundation, along with at least four other board members.

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“I think they have seven or nine board members and four of them are gone,” Urban Neighborhood Initiative Executive Director Dianne Cleaver told The Star.

Gloria Fisher-Ortiz, executive director of community development corporation Westside Housing, told the newspaper she’s confident the project will eventually be completed and the current predicament is just an “unfortunate time delay.”

At this point, it’s uncertain if any potential homebuyers would even want the homes built by Make It Right, since the existing houses crafted by the foundation — many of them in Hurricane Katrina-stricken New Orleans — have been described as shoddy and slapdash.

Common Ground Relief Executive Director Thom Pepper has reported complaints from existing homeowners, who say that their homes needed to be rebuilt or majorly repaired in order to fix mistakes in construction.

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The homes, which are meant to be environmentally sustainable and affordable for those suffering or in poverty, were originally conceived to help New Orleans residents recover post-Katrina.

Pitt founded the charity in 2007, and it has built homes and neighbourhoods in New Orleans, Kansas City, Newark, NJ, and Montana.

Canadian contractor and builder Mike Holmes partnered with Pitt in 2008, after discovering that his trademarked phrase (“Make It Right”) was being used by Pitt.

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“We heard of Brad Pitt’s intentions and I would never cause a fuss over anything that had to do with doing things the right way,” Holmes said at the time. “We sent them an e-mail saying ‘We just want you to know I own the trademark, and we want to talk to you about doing this together.'”

Holmes’s TV show, Holmes on Homes, shot a two-hour special about the building experience. It aired in January 2009.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the insufficient New Orleans homes were built by Holmes or another crew.

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