September 8, 2010; Source: CBS News | If residents of New Orleans thought that five years later many of the bad memories of Katrina can finallly be put to rest, at least one group is learning their troubles aren’t over yet. CBS News has reported that an estimated 120 homes built by Habitat for Humanity after the hurricane devastated New Orleans in 2005 will now have to be torn down and rebuilt because of defective Chinese drywall.
At least 40 out of 72 affected homes are in a part of the city known as Musicians’ Village, a rebuilding effort that received a lot of attention because of the personal involvement of musicians Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis. For the duration of this latest rebuilding work, people living in the homes with the Chinese drywall will live in rental apartments, perhaps for as long as two months.
Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that is usually celebrated for its efforts to provide affordable housing, says it will do the work and pay all costs. Aleis Tusa, a spokesperson for Habitat, told CBS News that it will cost the group some $45,000 per home in addition to storage expenses for each displaced homeowner.
The homes to be torn down contain a form of drywall that reportedly can cause the structure to deteriorate and make it unlivable because of severe corrosion that destroys electrical wires and appliances. Athough the drywall also gives off a foul smell, it’s not known if it causes any health problems. Both Connick and Marsalis issued separate statements to CBS. Connick said “it broke my heart when I learned that like so many others along the Gulf Coast, some of our homes in the village were built with defective drywall.” Marsalis told CBS News that he “became involved with Habitat for Humanity because I believe in their work and their mission.”
While Habitat appears to be taking full responsibility, in a separate article the investigative news service ProPublica reported that some people question whether the group moved quickly enough. ProPublica notes that Habitat only stopped using the defective drywall in November 2009 after it was ordered to do so by the Consumer Product and Safety Commission. More so, ProPublica, which along with the Herald-Tribune, first raised questions about whether the drywall was making the homes uninhabitable, said it took Habitat for Humanity almost a full year to begin testing homes for drywall and damage.—Bruce Trachtenberg