SBP was founded in March 2006 by Zack Rosenburg and Liz McCartney after the couple (now married), who originally lived in Washington, D.C., volunteered in Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish following Hurricane Katrina. The parish, located just outside of New Orleans, was rendered 100% uninhabitable by Katrina’s floodwaters. Seeing the inefficiency and unbearably slow progress of the institutional – or “traditional” rebuilding process, but inspired by the residents’ collective spirit and fierce determination to rebuild, Zack and Liz launched an organization – originally called St. Bernard Project – to help them achieve their recovery goals.
With the tremendous support of donors, volunteers and corporate partners, that organization has grown from a three-person volunteer team into a national organization headquartered in New Orleans, and recognized as a leader in disaster resilience and recovery, with a mission to shrink the time between disaster and recovery.
With operations nationwide, it rebranded in 2016 changing its name officially to, SBP. In doing so the new name allows the organization to grow well beyond its hyper-local roots in St. Bernard Parish, while still retaining the legacy and spirit of those early days.
SBP seeks to achieve its mission via five interventions:
Rebuild homes quickly after disasters by mobilizing private sector innovations and assigning a single point of contact to make the home rebuilding process faster and more predictable.
Share rebuilding innovations with other rebuilding organizations to allow for efficient, predictable recovery on a national scale.
Prepare home and business owners prior to and following disaster with specific steps to mitigate risk and improve resilience.
Advise policy makers immediately after a disaster so they can deploy federal dollars sooner, and in a way that empowers an efficient recovery.
Advocate for the reform of disaster recovery strategies in the U.S. to improve the predictability and speed of recovery.
SBP’s model is greatly enhanced by AmeriCorps members from all over the country who serve as client case managers, volunteer coordinators and construction site supervisors, overseeing the labor of more than 30,000 volunteers annually at SBP operations around the U.S.
With its construction system enhanced and optimized through an ongoing partnership with Toyota, which helped implement lean manufacturing processes, SBP rebuilds homes far below market rate, and carries out construction projects with much lower subsidies than traditional affordable housing models.