Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Barnes & Noble chairman plans to build houses for storm victims

Leonard Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, announced Tuesday that his family's charitable foundation plans to build 20 houses in Gentilly for homeowners who have not managed to rebuild since Katrina, the first phase of what will ultimately be a $20 million effort to bring ailing residents back home.

The 20 houses, which will incorporate environmentally sustainable features, will be built on an empty lot on St. Bernard Avenue between Mandolin Street and Owens Boulevard.

"Despite the enormity of Katrina's fury, a point was proved once again that no storm or floor or disaster can destroy this city because its people are too resilient...to be washed away," Riggio said in a morning news conference.

The Riggio Foundation will provide a new house at no cost to owners who are willing to swap out their flooded, uninhabitable home. The foundation will select residents to participate in its program, called Project Home Again, through a lottery.

Homeowners must apply for the lottery by April 15. Applications are available at Project Home Again's offices at 4299 St. Bernard Ave. Residents can also call (866) 550-4742 for an application or download the forms at www.projecthomeagain.net.