St. Bernard Project is Reinventing the Disaster Recovery Model to Reduce Human Toll Nationwide

The long-term disaster recovery model in America is broken and outdated. The current model lacks accountability, coordination, and the ethos of constant improvement, resulting in longer-than-necessary delays and increased stress for families who want to go back home.

“It’s been six long years,” – Courtenay LaRoche, SBP Client.

St. Bernard Project (SBP) was started in March 2006 when Liz McCartney, a teacher, and Zack Rosenburg, a lawyer, realized the tremendous need in New Orleans post-Katrina. The lack of coordination in recovery was alarming, so Liz and Zack – inspired by the residents’ collective spirit, openness, and fierce desire to rebuild their lives and community – decided to create an organization that would provide vital resources and support to families in a seamless and timely manner. To date, SBP has rebuilt more than 435 owner-occupied homes with support from 40,000 volunteers nationwide.

SBP’s all-under-one-roof, vertically integrated model is key to SBP’s programmatic success. It uses volunteer and in-house skilled labor without the need for (and cost of) subcontractors. SBP saves time and money by exercising direct control over labor and scheduling, which also allows us to create well-paying jobs for veterans and other under- and unemployed residents. SBP offers virtually all services in-house, rebuilds homes far below market rate, and carries out construction projects with much lower subsidies than traditional affordable housing models.

In 2011, SBP decided to make substantial improvements to our service by increasing quality, productivity, and safety, while reducing client wait time. To tackle these goals, SBP partnered with Toyota because of their expertise in maximizing efficiencies throughout their vehicle production process. Toyota lent SBP two engineers, whose combined expertise vastly improved SBP’s rebuild model. The number of construction rebuild days has dropped from an average of 116 to 60 days (48% improvement!); the number of houses rebuilt per month increased from 8.6 to 12.8; and general improvements to construction management have impacted rework requests, training, and workflow. This incredible public-private partnership means that SBP can rebuild more homes for families who are still displaced nearly seven years after Katrina.

“Faces of Katrina,” is an awareness campaign focused on humanizing client stories. Deliverables (portrait and interview with clients) are published online, in print, and throughout the SBP office to keep the focus on clients. We have raised $189,000 to-date through Faces of Katrina, enough to sponsor five homes.

“It’s been six long years,” said Mrs. LaRoche, “but, now, we are finally home. This is a dream come true for me and my family.”

Reducing build time by nearly 50% is an incredible advancement and achievement for disaster recovery because it directly impacts the lives of American families. There are still 130+ clients on SBP’s waiting list, and 10,000 homeowners in New Orleans who cannot afford to rebuild. This achievement is one giant step in the right direction for reducing human toll and solving the shortcomings of today’s disaster recovery model.

More About This Charity




Disaster Relief and International Aid


St. Bernard Project


St. Bernard Project (SBP) is an innovative, award-winning non-profit organization that removes physical, mental, and emotional barriers for vulnerable families, senior citizens, and disabled residents struggling to recover from the devastation and trauma caused by Hurricane Katrina, while also serving as a model for disaster rebuilding and affordable housing.


  • This Achievement raised $189,000
  • This charity raised $6,000,000 in the past year
  • This Achievement helped 250 people
  • This charity helped 50 people in the past year
  • 83 homes built for families that own their home built by over 10,000 volunteers nationwide

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