Resist, Rejoice and Rebuild    the Lower 9th Ward

By MA Sheehan, from All Souls Church Unitarian and the Lower 9th Ward Homeownership Association

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Campaign ended on: July 17, 2017
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Every joyful gift rebuilds a home and resists the injustice that slows our recovery.

Our multiplier effect turns $1 given into $14.29 in construction – a total of $4 million so far.

Before Hurricane Katrina, the Lower 9th Ward was a vibrant, hard-working community where children grew up surrounded by aunts and cousins and grandparents, living in family homes that had been passed down from generation to generation. In a neighborhood that was 98% African-American, 59% of residents were homeowners and more than half had no mortgage.

Twelve years later, only 37% of Lower 9th Ward families have been able to come home.

REJOICING IN OUR UU COMMUNITY.  Against that bleak statistic and the tragedy it contains, the Lower 9th Ward Homeownership Association rejoices that UUs from across the country are helping us bring the missing families home. Our housing program grew out of the commitment made by DC’s All Souls Church Unitarian to seek justice for the displaced homeowners of the Lower 9th Ward.

With their support, we have taken $280,000 in grants and donations and turned it into $4 million worth of housing. That’s a multiplier effect—a matching grant from the federal government—of $14.29. We’re able to do this because there’s still $33 million sitting at HUD, designated for rebuilding our homes.  But every homeowner, like Darrial Sharp, needs a highly-trained advocate to press their case before funding for their home will be approved.

REBUILDING DARRIAL’S HOME.  When Darrial Sharp was three years old, his father, a longshoreman, took him down to Benton Street in the Lower Ninth Ward. There, while he played in the sand beneath a live oak tree, he watched his father build their new home with his own hands. “I can’t live forever,” his father used to say, “but you all are going to have a place to stay.”

After his father died, Darrial moved home to care for his brother, who had suffered from poor health all his life and never left the house their father built. Before Hurricane Katrina struck, he put Clarence on a plane to safety. Twelve years later, with Clarence now suffering from Alzheimer’s, they still aren’t home.

We are working with the Sharp family, and many others like them, to line up the federal funding to rebuild their home.

RESISTING INJUSTICE.  It’s no coincidence that our neighborhood has been the slowest in the city to recover. After we took the worst of the levee breaches, we confronted a cascading series of barriers—National Guard troops that kept us from our homes long after other neighborhoods had reopened; a city that turned off our water for the express purpose of improving water service elsewhere; a state grant formula that paid more in wealthy, white neighborhoods than in lower-income, African-American ones.

This is a story that repeats itself over and over again in African-American neighborhoods, from the demolition of homes during urban renewal to discrimination against black veterans while white soldiers were moving to the suburbs using GI Bill loans. And over and over again, the lasting effects of this loss reach into the next generation. Even today, the legacy of discrimination in GI Bill programs can be seen in the wealth gap between whites and non-whites, particularly in lower rates of homeownership.

In the 9, as we call it, there is still a chance to break this pattern. In large part due to our persistent advocacy, HUD has released millions of dollars for grants to displaced homeowners, if we can prove they’re entitled to it. We are therefore committed to seeing that all homeowners have advocates by their side to make sure that this time they get the funds they’re entitled to. This time, with your help, they will not be left waiting on the rooftops.

YOUR GIFT WILL NOT JUST BE MATCHED – IT WILL BE MULTIPLIED!  Because we use your donations to pull federal funds into the Lower 9th Ward, every dollar you give will be transformed through the L9WHA multiplier effect.

Your gift         Multiplier       Result

$25                  $14.29             $357 – Flooring for living/dining area and kitchen

$50                  $14.29             $715 – Entire Water Sense bathroom – toilet, sink and faucet, tub, faucet and shower head, tub surround

$100                $14.29             $1,429 – Full suite of Energy Star kitchen appliances – refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, microwave

$7000              $14.29             $100,000 – Entire 2 bedroom, 1 bath home

REJOICING IN YOUR GENEROSITY.  The Lower 9th Ward has always been a place where people took care of themselves. Darrial and Clarence’s father paid off the mortgage on the home he built so he could leave it to his children free and clear, but he also told them – “Now if you keep the lights on, that’s on you.” But sometimes, our own efforts just aren’t enough. Those are the times when we rejoice in the justice-seeking and generosity of people who don’t even know us, but care about us anyway. Thank you for the love you bring to the world.

If  you would like more information about our work, please visit our website at or check us out on facebook at

Comments (4)

  1. Hope Eliot

    I would have liked to donate to this valuable project, but I got busy and didn’t get to my personal “to do” list until today. Can I still donate? Thank you.

  2. M.A. Sheehan

    Thank you so much, Hope. We would delighted if you donate now. You can either send a check to Lower 9th Ward Homeownership Association, 5234 N. Claiborne Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117 or you can donate online at We really appreciate your support.

  3. Dottie Mayol

    Just prior to my attendance at the UUA General Assembly, my friend & I drove through the 9th. at the GA, I picked up a flyer, but only went to the website today. Like Hope E. (7/19), I too wanted to donate to the matching fundraiser and see today that the campaign closed already. Since the reply above gives your mailing address I will be glad to mail my donation. Dottie M.

    1. M.A. Sheehan

      Thank you so much, Dottie! We would be so grateful for your donation. I’m glad you had a chance to see the Lower 9th Ward.
      Again, here is how to donate:
      Send a check to:
      Lower 9th Ward Homeownership Association
      5234 N. Claiborne Ave.
      New Orleans, LA 70117
      Donate online at
      We really appreciate your support!

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