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St. Roch has a new tool lending library and murals courtesy of nonprofit Rebuilding Together

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Six residents also received free home repairs at the yearly “Building Healthy Neighborhoods” event.

Volunteers paint murals at the intersection of St. Ferdinand and Marais streets.
Photos courtesy Stephen West of Rebuilding Together New Orleans
Volunteers appraise a house due to receive repairs.

Last week, more than 250 volunteers repaired six homes, painted two community murals, and created a tool lending library and workspace in St. Roch. The effort was part of Rebuilding Together’s 30th annual “Building Healthy Neighborhoods” event, presented by Chevron.

“This year was unique in that it (added) the maker space, murals, and included a lot of home building and repairs,” said William Stoudt, executive director of Rebuilding Together New Orleans. “I think it was a pretty special October build.”

Lowe’s Home Improvement donated $6,000 of tools to the free lending library, which is housed at The Green Project (2831 Marais Street). Locals can use everything on site, from hammers and drills to planers and band saws, and they will be able to borrow tools in the future. The tool library will also provide free home repair classes starting Saturday, October 20. Visit the Green Project’s website for more information.

“We’ll be providing workshops around specific tools and topics like repairing window panes or patching drywall,” Stoudt said. “In the next month or two, we’ll start lending out tools to residents.”

Rebuilding Together New Orleans is spearheaded by the Preservation Resource Center. Since its inception in 1988, the program has completed more than 1,600 projects and benefitted thousands of low-income, elderly, disabled, and veteran homeowners.

Last week, St. Roch homeowners received home repairs that included new paint, fences, kitchen improvements, and updates to improve home accessibility. A block party and community resource fair connected residents with more than 30 local organizations including Nurse Family Partnership, Urgent Care, Rhubarb Bike Shop, Girls Rock New Orleans, Greenlight, and NOLA Time Bank.

“The resource fair came about after realizing there was a need for access to information and education,” said Rebuilding Together president and CEO Caroline Blakely in a press release. “It allowed us to assist more families, in addition to those who received repair work.”

More than 65 percent of St. Roch residents earn less than $15,000 per year, making homeowners vulnerable to displacement as property values increase and home repair costs mount. Rebuilding Together aims to “improve the quality of life of low income homeowners ... through home repair and revitalization of New Orleans’ neighborhoods,” according to its mission statement.

“Being able to come and go will be much easier now that I have a proper wheelchair ramp,” said Mr. Brown, a St. Roch homeowner, stated in a press release. “And with constant access to the new tool lending library, I’ll be able to keep my home in top shape until the day comes to pass it on to my daughter.”

Volunteers paint a St. Roch home. Organizations including Shell, Wells Fargo, First Bank and Trust, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Lucid, Hancock Whitney, Harrah’s New Orleans, and Healthy Blue. sent volunteer groups.