lowernine.org was established after the end of Emergency Communities, one of the first nonprofit organizations formed as of the result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The headquarters of lowernine.org is located in the Holy Cross neighborhood of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward.
Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast on August 29th, 2005 and resulting levee breaches in New Orleans flooded 80% of the city. The Lower Ninth Ward was very badly devastated by the storm due to its close proximity to the Industrial Canal levee breach - 100% of the homes in the neighborhood were rendered uninhabitable. Although this area suffered the most devastating repercussions of the storm, the Lower Ninth Ward has lagged behind tremendously in rebuilding compared to other parts of the city. This is a result of poverty and improper action of the state and federal government - particularly at fault was a federally-funded program called Road Home that was found to be discriminatory by a federal court in 2010.
lowernine.org is a residential construction company that renovates damaged homes and does new home construction for pre-Katrina residents of the Lower Ninth Ward. The organization is dedicated to training local residents and volunteers from across the United States and around the world in residential construction. They provide residents and volunteers with the skills and tools necessary to build homes, from very basic home repair to advanced construction, thus facilitating the return of pre-Katrina residents to their homes and properties.
lowernine.org offers their services to all pre-Katrina residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, physical abilities, religious beliefs, and economic status. While many impediments to recovery were felt across the Gulf Coast Region, and more keenly felt in low-wealth communities, the largest barrier was without a doubt the federally-funded Road Home Program, which was found to be discriminatory in a federal court in 2010. While the program should have helped Lower Ninth Ward residents, its discriminatory nature left homeowners there having to decide between being contractually obligated to rebuild with a fraction of the required funds, and walking away from their properties after selling them to the government. At present, the largest single property owner in the Lower Ninth Ward by far is a self-described "quasi-governmental" city office called the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA). Instead of facilitating the return of the original property owners, NORA has chosen to "award" these properties to favored developers and nonprofit organizations who are building homes to rent or sell - often at full market value. Thus, the proud history of black homeownership there - one of the highest in the nation prior to Hurricane Katrina, has been decimated.
lowernine.org is funded entirely by individual donations and service volunteers. Any New Orleanian present since the levee breaches knows it is volunteers who have rebuilt the city, and that without their dedicated service and generosity, little would have been accomplished.
To date, lowernine.org has worked with over 10,000 volunteers, and has fully rebuilt 87 homes, completing smaller projects on over 300 more properties. Although any form of service is greatly appreciated, those skilled in carpentry, electrical wiring, and plumbing are sought as volunteers. The Lower Ninth Ward is a place filled with unique and inspiring citizens who deserve to have a sense of community restored back into the place they call home.