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FAQs | St. Bernard Project

St. Bernard Project

Rebuilding the Homes and Lives of Katrina Survivors


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About SBP

What does the St. Bernard Project do?

Mission Statement:

St. Bernard Project is an innovative, award-winning non-profit organization whose mission is to remove physical, mental, and emotional barriers for vulnerable families, senior citizens and disabled residents who are struggling to recover from the devastation and trauma caused by natural, man-made or economic disasters, while also serving as a model for disaster rebuilding and affordable housing. SBP’s goals are to:

1) create humane, safe, secure, efficient and affordable housing;

2) ensure that individuals, families and the community as a whole are mentally healthy and well;

3) create living wage jobs for veterans in the community.

When was St. Bernard Project founded?

Liz McCartney and Zack Rosenburg founded the St. Bernard Project in March 2006 after volunteering in St. Bernard after the storm. During that time, they met many hardworking residents who were determined to move back home but lacked the financial resources to rebuild their homes. They returned to St. Bernard Parish in June 2006 and began working on their first client’s home in August 2006. Since that time they have evolved into a thriving rebuilding organization that has helped over 420 families move back into their homes.

What are your current needs?

There are three key ingredients to our recipe for success: tools, volunteers and funds.  Supplying SBP with these resources expedites the rebuilding efforts and returns more families to their homes.

Is the St. Bernard Project a religious organization?

No, we are not. St. Bernard is the name of the parish (county) where we originated and does not hold any religious affiliation. However, we do have strong relationships with faith-based groups.

Who does St. Bernard Project partner with?

SBP partners with AmeriCorps and United Way of the Greater New Orleans Area. Check out all of our Donors and Partners here!

Why does SBP rebuild homes for people who previously rented?

Renters in the area were some of the most vulnerable members of the community in the aftermath of the hurricanes. Many of our clients, because they were renting, had no insurance on their personal property. Renters lost everything too, but they had no safety net. The St. Bernard Project believes that getting these families to be first-time homeowners is vital to the rebuilding efforts in Greater New Orleans. Not only will these families help rebuild the neighborhoods where their homes are located, but they will also become rooted members of the community with a vested interest in the community.


Who can volunteer?

We recruit volunteers from all over the country and around the world. We need both skilled and unskilled volunteers. You can come alone or bring along family, friends or colleagues. Our only requirement is that volunteers are willing and able to do construction work.

Where do we stay if we volunteer with SBP?

There are lots of options. Volunteers can stay at local churches, in a dorm facility, at a hotel or in a rental home. View our Volunteer page to learn about the lodging options that we recommend.

What is a po’boy and should I get it dressed?

The po’boy (short for “poor boy”) is the staple of any New Orleanian diet. It’s like sub but it’s made with extra crunchy french bread. The most popular po-boys are fried shrimp, roast beef, and catfish but the options are seemingly endless. If you like lettuce tomato and mayo, get it dressed. Our favorite po’boy joints include Tony’s and Today’s Ketch (in St. Bernard), Parkway Tavern (where the President recently ordered a shrimp po’boy), Domilise’s and Johnny’s (in New Orleans).

Someone told me I was going to Da Parish. What does that mean?

Da Parish is the endearing term many New Orleanians have for St. Bernard Parish, the county in which SBP originated and has its office.

The Process

How do you choose your clients?

Homeowners in St. Bernard or Orleans Parishes who do not have adequate funds to hire a contractor to rebuild their home can apply to the St. Bernard Project for help. Applicants complete an application, are interviewed by St. Bernard Project staff and present documents to verify their need. We give special priority to senior citizens, the disabled and families with young children.

How do you decide what work needs to be done on each client’s house?

The homeowner and a construction manager develop a rebuilding plan for the house. Clients select the colors of the cabinets and countertop, flooring, bathroom fixtures and appliances. All other materials used in the home are standard materials that are used on every client’s house. The site supervisor coordinates the volunteers, materials and tools that are needed to carry out this rebuilding plan.

How much does it cost St. Bernard Project to rebuild an average size home in St. Bernard Parish?

It costs on average $20,000 to complete volunteer labor on a home in about 12 weeks. Our rebuilding costs are low because most of the labor is provided by volunteers.

How do you raise money to rebuild clients’ homes and pay for other operational costs?

We receive donations from volunteers, faith-based groups and individuals and grants from foundations, corporations and civic groups. Some of our significant donors have included the United Way, Toyota, Capital One, GE Foundation, Tide, Starfish Group, Newman’s Own Foundation, Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way, Winn Dixie, Entergy, and the Braveheart Foundation.

What are the steps it takes to get someone back in their house?

Roughly, the process is as follows:

  1. Volunteers treat the house for mold
  2. Volunteers repair/replace the roof, windows and exterior doors as needed
  3. Staff (and sometimes volunteers) electricians and plumbers install the rough wires and pipes. House is inspected by Parish inspectors
  4. Volunteers install the insulation and drywall and then texture and paint the walls
  5. Volunteers install the flooring, baseboard, window trim and interior doors
  6. Staff (and sometimes volunteers) carpenter install the kitchen cabinets and countertops
  7. Staff (and sometimes volunteers) electricians and plumbers install the final pieces: toilets, fixtures, switches, sinks, and appliances
  8. House is inspected by Parish or city inspectors
  9. Client calls power and water companies to start service
  10. Client moves homes!

Staying Involved

How can I stay involved after I volunteer?

Easy ways to stay connected include:

  • Make a donation or raise funds for SBP
  • Recruit family and friends to join you on your next trip
  • Become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter
  • Raise awareness by writing an article or blog spot, sending an email to family and friends about your experience
  • Start a Chapter on your campus or in your community
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