Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt break ground for affordable homes in New Orleans |

Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt break ground for affordable homes in New Orleans

Associated Press Writer
President Bill Clinton, left, hosting his Clinton Global Initiative University, and actor Brad Pitt, right, founder of the Make It Right Foundation, pose with DeeCarla Rogers while they greet volunteers and break ground for new homes in the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, Sunday, March 16, 2008. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)

NEW ORLEANS ” Former President Clinton and Brad Pitt met with hundreds of volunteers in the Lower 9th Ward at the site where a foundation headed by Pitt plans to begin building affordable homes for Hurricane Katrina victims.

“We hope to see a huge change here in the next six months,” Pitt told a group of residents as he posed for pictures Sunday and signed autographs.

The 44-year-old actor and Clinton walked a street as hundreds of volunteers on either side, wielding shovels and rakes, prepared the land for homes. For hours, they cleared overgrown grass and weeds that were covering street drains and sidewalks.

The Lower 9th Ward was one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in New Orleans when Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005, causing the city’s levee system to fail with devastating flooding.

“We’re working to get the grounds ready so construction can begin,” said Anne Bouthilette, a 20-year-old sophomore history major at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

“It is only fitting that we culminate a weekend focused on youth service by turning words into action,” Clinton said in a prepared statement.

The event wrapped Sunday with the volunteer effort in the Lower 9th Ward, at the site where Pitt and his Make It Right Foundation are building homes using environmentally friendly materials such as cisterns and solar panels for residents who lost their homes in the storm.

Pitt and Clinton broke ground with shovels after their mingling with the volunteers.