A Habitat for Humanity construction team

Credits: Photograph by Stephen Karlisch

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Of course, mere bricks and mortar can't replace the famously tight-knit society of New Orleans. But a feeling of community can be encouraged by design. Nate, who had flown repeatedly to Houston during both the planning and the construction stages of Angel Lane, insisted, along with Oprah, that the houses have porches deep enough to hold a table and chairs, so that families would be encouraged to hang out with their neighbors.

And, importantly, Habitat requires the families—who are screened during a selection process—to put in 300 hours of labor in lieu of a down payment. The future neighbors worked side by side framing walls and installing windows, building friendships as well as houses.

This Habitat for Humanity construction team—including Nate Berkus (center) and soon-to-be-homeowner Nathan Thomas (far right)—raises one of the first framed walls on Angel Lane.
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