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Barnes & Noble chair commits $20 million for housing in New Orleans

Barnes & Noble chair commits $20 million for housing in New Orleans

The chairman of the U.S.'s largest bookseller on Tuesday announced what is believed to be the largest single philanthropic project in the city since Hurricane Katrina _ $20 million (euro13.5 million) from his family foundation to build new houses for residents displaced by the storm 2 1/2 years ago.
Barnes & Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio and his wife, Louise, plan to focus at least initially on the Gentilly neighborhood. As part of "Project Home Again," they plan to build 20 new, elevated houses for lower-income families.
Under the plan, Gentilly residents who lived in the racially diverse, mixed-income neighborhood at least two years before Katrina and who still own property there would swap their uninhabitable, storm-damaged homes or empty lots for new houses. Those families then would get forgivable mortgages, over five years, before owning the new houses outright.
Eligible families will be selected through a lottery system after an application period.
Officials hope to begin construction as early as this spring and complete work on the homes _ depicted in a drawing as candy-colored structures of varying design and size _ within a year.
A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Tuesday in a tent on property along a tree-lined street in various states of recovery.
Riggio said he and his wife, after seeing the devastation wrought by Katrina, felt that citizens had a responsibility to reach out and help those affected. Their goal was not just to build one scattered house at a time but to build community, which he said is important.
"There's a sense of urgency to this project," he told reporters.
The hope is that the program will be a model for rebuilding in the city.


Updated : 2021-04-16 15:55 GMT+08:00