Angel Organizations of the Month
The mission of the St. Bernard Project is to remove barriers for families who wish to move back into their homes in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. St. Bernard is a uniquely tight-knit, working/middle class community adjacent to New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward and is arguably the area hardest hit by hurricane Katrina. The St. Bernard Project, a nonprofit, community-based organization carries out its mission through three primary programs: Rebuilding Program, Center for Wellness and Mental Health and Senior Housing Program.
The St. Bernard Project was started in March 2006 by Zack Rosenburg and Liz McCartney after the couple volunteered in St. Bernard in February. During their initial month of service, they met residents who were courageous, spirited and determined to rebuild their lives and community. They shared their stories, opened their homes and made Liz and Zack laugh, cry and question their own values. Inspired by the residents’ collective spirit, openness and fierce desire to rebuild their lives and community, Zack and Liz decided to create an organization that would provide vital resources and support to families in a seamless and timely manner. The St. Bernard Project's programs and goals are directly driven by the needs expressed by the community members.
St. Bernard Project (SBP) is a community-based nonprofit organization headquartered in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, a uniquely tight-knit, working-class community that suffered catastrophic damage in hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Founded in 2006, SBP’s mission is to remove barriers for families who wish to return to their homes in St. Bernard. To date, utilizing volunteer labor and donations for building supplies, SBP has rebuilt 211 families’ homes and is currently working on 30 more homes. Homes are completely rebuilt in about 12 weeks and building supplies cost an average of $12,000 per house.
SBP uses an “Under One Roof” model. We offer case management, construction services, funding for our clients, and volunteer recruitment and in-house management. By offering all of the necessary services to rebuild our clients homes, SBP has developed a responsive and efficient program that delivers solutions in a timely manner.
Our all-under-one-roof model of volunteer-driven serves low to moderate-income clients who do not have cash on hand or access to cash to rebuild their homes. This program gives priority to clients in three categories: elderly, disabled, and parents/caretakers of children.
By utilizing volunteer labor, skilled supervisors and affordable building supplies, the program rebuilds homes in 12 weeks at a cost of approximately $12,000-$15,000 (including supplies and staff supervision) per home. To date the Rebuilding Program has rebuilt homes for 211 families in St. Bernard and works on 30+ homes at a time. More than 11,000 volunteers have supported this program..
Due to the significant mental health needs in the community and SBP’s position of trust in the community, SBP has partnered with the LSU Department of Psychiatry to create this center which provides residents with free access to high level clinical services. Services include assessments, medication management, evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy, supportive psychotherapy, and mind, body and wellness classes. By operating the CWMH under the same roof as the Rebuilding Program, residents benefit from a one-stop shopping model that will minimize the stigma that is often associated with accessing mental health services.
The St. Bernard Project is committed to developing affordable rental housing for senior citizens and disabled residents. Construction of these units will begin in Summer 2009. A recent study by the Brookings Institute reveals that fair market rents in the metropolitan area have climbed nearly 40% since hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In St. Bernard Parish, the average cost of a one bedroom unit has risen from approximately $500 per to month before the storms to a current rate of $800 per month.
For seniors and disabled residents who are living on fixed incomes, the situation is especially dire. These residents who at one time served as the fabric of the community and the anchors of families, can not afford to return to their community. Once the FEMA trailers are removed and the rental assistance programs are dissolved, many of these residents will have no options.
The St. Bernard Project’s Senior Housing Program will address the need for affordable senior housing in St. Bernard Parish by creating affordable rental units (available at pre-storm rates) for seniors and disabled residents. Specifically, the Program will:
How You Can Help
Now more than ever the St. Bernard Project needs your help. We are mobilizing staff and resources to assist with the recovery efforts, but your support is vital to our success. Please consider helping in one or more of the following ways:
Host a Fundraiser
Spread the Word
Contact St. Bernard Project
St. Bernard Project
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