There’s a saying that goes something like, “The only thing worse than people talking bad about you is people not talking about you.” Names will not be used for the intent is not to draw attention to my critics’ identity, but rather to attempt to extract some points from my critics’ misplaced anger and sarcasm as there others out there that might have pondered similar thoughts.
Well… here we are less than a week into Do Over’s release and I’ve already got critics. I’ll have to keep my ego in check as I’m feeling a little significant 🙂 There’s a saying that goes something like, “The only thing worse than people talking bad about you is people not talking about you.”
Actually, I was expecting critics, but not so fast, or for this reason. I was expecting my book’s content to possibly be the subject of criticism. I mean you can’t please everybody, and those that try typically end up pleasing nobody. But to be criticized for how I intend to spend the money my book generates was not expected.
I won’t include names for my intent is not to draw attention to my critics’ identity, but rather to attempt to extract some points from my critics’ misplaced anger and sarcasm as there are others out there that might have pondered similar thoughts.
[Keeping this post within the spirit of “Do Over,” take heed if you intend to champion some sort of charitable effort. Regardless of the good you’re up to, you will have critics and opponents. So, let’s see if I handle this correctly, or if I will need a “Do Over.” This is an opportunity to use my hindsight as your foresight 🙂 ]
Here’s Critic #1’s comment I noticed on somebody’s FB page:
“200K to buy a house in New Orleans for a displaced (going on SIX years) family!!!!!!! Not begrudging a house for displaced family – many were cheated by FEMA, Insurance, the City, and Contractors – but 200K – there are PLENTY of nice houses in and around New Orleans for much less.”
After reading this a few times, I’m interpreting Critic #1’s comments as he has an issue with the amount of money needed to build a new house in New Orleans. Actually, he has a big issue with it as I’m noticing his selective use of capital letters and exclamation points.
Before I address the $200K, allow me to draw your attention to the words in parenthesis (going on SIX years) because they are important. This person is probably unaware of how important those words are.
First, and this is minor, but I felt the need to point it out. It was FIVE years ago that Hurricane Katrina (HK) hit. Sorry, I couldn’t resist using all caps. The five year anniversary was just a few weeks ago. Second, and this is the important part… if you were to visit the Lower 9th Ward (of where the focus of my project is) today, it would appear as if HK just hit yesterday. That’s how bad it is, and that’s how little that has been done = how much there is to do.
Now, the $200K. You’ll notice of the homes pictured in this post that they aren’t ordinary homes, and what these pictures won’t tell you is that when these homes are built, the builders do not get to start with a fresh clean lot to build upon. From start to finish, the cost to build one of these homes is approximately $150,000. There’s extensive clean up that takes place prior to the build, and there are new (post HK) costly guidelines and requirements (thus, the unique architecture) imposed by the city to which the builders must adhere. In a nutshell, it ain’t cheap.
Sure, there are areas around New Orleans where more modest homes could be purchased. However, my intent is for the displaced family to move back to their original neighborhood, as they have expressed to me is their desire regardless of how long they’ve been displaced, and resume life a little more comfortable than their previous existence. So, I’m building a new, better and more comfortable home in their neighborhood.
1. As a full-time real estate investor with fix n’ flip experience, I know it is wise to have a “just in case” fund. Expect the unexpected is Rule #1 in my biz. The only thing you can count on when taking on a project like building a new house, especially with all of the variables in place in this particular area, is that something you don’t count on will happen. I want to be certain I fulfill on this promise, so I’m prepared for the unexpected.
2. My goal is not to build only one house. If you’ve only recently heard of my project, you wouldn’t know this, but as it’s been posted here for almost three years… I am going to document and publicize this project in a way that it hopefully touches and inspires another, if not many, to do the same. Although, I’m receiving some favors to accomplish the filming and publicity of this project, there will be expenses, nonetheless.
3. I thought it would be a nice gesture to put a little money in the recipient’s pocket, also.
With regard to the rest of Critic #1’s comments, I’m going to share Critic #2’s FB message I received as it is relevant to my response.
A $200,000 house for a displaced family in NOLA? Help me understand, please. I’ve been to NOLA twice, I’m a professional General Contractor in the Greater Cincinnati Tri-State area now going on 12 yrs & prior to that in the industry for an additional 9 yrs, & at that rate you could build from the ground up several homes in that area for that cost. I could use some clarity. Please, help me to better understand this message & purpose of this “mission”.
The irony is that this comes from a GC, and I’ll get to that. This critic, too, has an issue with the price. I’ve covered that sufficiently (I think, I’ll expound on it more if anybody needs me to). Hopefully, this person now understands that the cost to build a home in Greater Cincinnati is different than building a home in the Lower 9th Ward of NOLA post HK.
The second part of our first critic’s comments reads “…many were cheated by FEMA, Insurance, the City, and Contractors…” There’s some truth here, but some falsities, as well.
I don’t know what Critic #1’s base of knowledge is for this comment. I watch the news and if that were my source of information, I would likely agree with Critic #1. Also, I don’t know to what extent or capacity Critic #2’s visit to NOLA was. If I was in NOLA for Mardi Gras, a business conference or something to where driving through the Lower 9th Ward was not on my itinerary, I would find it difficult to argue with Critic #2, also.
This is what I know, and I’m aware there is plenty I do not know, but this is what I do know. I have visited the Lower 9th Ward post HK, I have talked with residents pre- and post-HK, I have been in a FEMA trailer, I have talked to families living in FEMA trailers, I have met with Brad Pitt’s organization https://MakeItRight.org, I have met with GlobalGreen.org’s NOLA Division, and I’m working in conjunction with one of People Magazine’s Heroes Among Us of 2007, Principal Doris Hicks of the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Science and Technology. Doris has been the guiding light of the Lower 9th since HK hit. There’s nobody of which I’d rather be aligned.
Based off of my minimal experience, I have come to learn that FEMA and most insurance companies eventually did come through for NOLA’s residents. Based off of the conversations I had with residents, the breakdown in the rebuilding efforts was most commonly credited to crooked general contractors that took people’s money and didn’t complete the jobs. Second and third contractors were needed to complete home construction of which they didn’t follow through either.
I remember speaking with one family in 2008 in their FEMA trailer (living four people deep) parked in front of their partially completed new home. They had used their FEMA check to purchase a pre-manufactured home to be placed on the lot where their home used to sit. The exact dollar amount of the check escapes me, but it was sufficient to complete the job with money to spare. Half-way through the job, the contractor said he needed more money. Fortunately, the homeowner’s insurance check arrived and they gave all of it to the contractor to complete the job. Upon paying the contractor, the contractor skipped town. The homeowner’s pleaded with FEMA for help and were actually granted a second check. They hired a second contractor to complete the job and that contractor took their new home to about 80% complete before he asked for more money. The homeowner’s had nothing left and in result, that contractor bailed. So, at that time, the homeowner’s were on their third extension of FEMA trailer living (of which they had only one more month left) parked in front of their 80% completed home while it was deteriorating in the elements.
It was heartbreaking, and the story I later found out from other residents’ was typical. That was my experience, and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. It moved me.
By the way, my foundation is not an official foundation, yet. I’m still going through that process. In the meantime, I’m simply sharing with people what I’m going to do with the money my book generates, and I’m only asking for $1 for what has been my labor of love for the last two years. It’s a little confounding that someone has the time, energy and heart to criticize something like that.
It has been difficult to write this post without inserting defaming jabs at my critics, and I’ve struggled with being overly defensive. I’m going to assume my critics have redeeming qualities worthy of compliments so I’ll refrain from getting ugly. In this case, I’d like to believe they were nothing more than uninformed.
Oh, with regard to Critic #3, his “hate” message isn’t worth repeating. It would serve no purpose if I did, besides… he’s got bigger issues for which I cannot comment on with any sophistication or maturity.
To show your support of this cause, in addition to learning how your personal “do over” will work now when it didn’t work then, pick up your copy of Do Over for a minimum purchase of $1. Click here to order now.