Sunday, March 02, 2008

Thanks, Mr. Riggio

Barnes and Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio announced plans to invest $20 million in Gentilly at a press conference last Tuesday (February 27th).

In an initiative that should place at least 120 families into new houses built with energy-efficient features and elevated to a height that should protect them from future floods. Riggio plans to spend $20 million from his family's charitable foundation on the effort.

Residents who participate in the program will receive a new home at no cost, provided they surrender their flooded, uninhabitable house -- or the vacant lot where it once stood -- to Project Home Again, the nonprofit that Riggio spun out of his foundation. The charity will give each family a mortgage equal to the difference between their new and old homes and then steadily forgive the mortgage over a period of five years, after which the family will own the house outright.

A devotee of New Orleans music, Riggio said no flood could wipe out the music, food, culture and "genius" that New Orleans has bequeathed the rest of the country.

Project Home Again will construct single-family homes on 50-foot lots in three sizes: two bedrooms/two baths; three bedrooms/two baths; and four bedrooms/two baths. The homes, which will be offered at no cost to eligible families.

PHA is intended to be a zero overhead operation, with all $20 million going directly to building homes. Eligible applicants must have lived in Gentilly two years prior to the storm and own a home (or former home site) in Gentilly that is uninhabitable due to Hurricane Katrina. They must be willing to swap their old uninhabitable home or site for a new home, and have a family consisting of two to eight individuals. Here are the eligibility requirements

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