Dec 12, 2012 11:13 AM by AP
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Former professional football players are teaming with New Orleans area builders to construct at least three new homes in the Lower 9th Ward - and they're hoping to have it done in time for Super Bowl 2013.
The effort was launched on Tuesday by Touchdown for Homes, a nationwide charitable outreach program of the National Association of Home Builders and the NFL Players Association that works to strengthen communities by building or renovating homes for children or families in need and veterans.
The Lower 9th Ward was one of the hardest-hit sections of the city when levees and floodwalls gave way during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Blocks where homes were pushed off their foundations sit empty, and only a fraction of the neighborhood's residents have returned.
"With more than a quarter of all NFL players in the history of the game hailing from the great state of Louisiana, we relish the opportunity to give back to the communities that gave so much to us," said Bernard Robertson, president of the New Orleans Chapter of the NFL Players Association.
The group is working in conjunction with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, which provided the necessary land for the project, and Lower 9th Ward citizens groups. Other partners include the Louisiana Home Builders Association and the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans.
"To date, the most gratifying aspect of this project has been the spirit of collaboration of the principals," said Jon Luther, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans.
Luther said the goal is to provide safe, affordable, energy-efficient housing for the community still struggling to recover from the 2005 flooding.
A local architecture firm, Williams Architecture, has drawn up plans for three homes. Partnering for the build are Reve' Inc., Integrity Builders, New Beginnings Enterprises and Champion Builders - all active members of the Louisiana and New Orleans Home Builders Associations.
The completion of the first three homes is being planned to coincide with the 2013 NFL Super Bowl championship game, which is scheduled to be played in New Orleans on Feb. 3.
The homes, which will be available first to families displaced by Katrina, are going to be built using funds from a Home Building Industry Disaster Relief Fund grant and with donated materials from community partners.