Help New Orleans Rebuild

In the five years since Hurricane Katrina, much of the city has been rebuilt. But there's still work to be done.

October 1, 2010

The following is a Q&A with Jim Pate, executive director of the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

How would you sum up the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity’s role in the recovery?

PATE: For the last two to three years we’ve been the largest single-family home builder in the metro area. We’ve built a total of 305 homes since the hurricane, largely in five communities. We have been—particularly with the Musicians’ Village site in the Upper Ninth Ward—a beacon of hope to our community and a symbol of the recovery effort.

What are some of the biggest challenges that remain?

PATE: We’ve had a really startling recovery in many areas, but there are also areas that are desperately in need of additional work. That’s what we’re trying to address. Our mission is to eliminate poverty housing and, as long as any family anywhere or any individual is living in unsafe, substandard housing, we’re going to be building those houses.

How has the city changed in the past five years?

PATE: We’re back up to more than 70 percent of pre-Katrina population. A lot of the post-Katrina population are new, smart, particularly young people who came down here to help but have found their heart in New Orleans and have set up their life here.

Tell us about the home that NAR is helping to build this year.

PATE: The home this year will be built in the Seventh Ward. It’s an excellent neighborhood. We typically build a 1,100-square-foot, three-bedroom house, and the average size of our families ranges from three to five.

Make plans to come to New Orleans early to participate in one of the REALTORS® Volunteer Build Days, Wednesday, Nov. 3, or Thursday, Nov. 4. NAR is teaming up with two organizations, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together New Orleans, to rebuild and restore homes for deserving families.

If you were among the more than 2,000 REALTORS® and guests who pitched in during the last New Orleans conference in 2006, you’ll get a chance to re-experience the power of giving back. To register, visit

Katherine Tarbox is a former senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine. Previously, she was editorial director for Washington Life. She is the author of the international bestselling book A Girl’s Life (Dutton, 2000) and has made hundreds of media appearances including The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and CNN.