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Habitat for Humanity To Launch First Project in Shanghai, China’s Largest City

“Shanghai Age Friendly City Housing Renovation Project” Pilot to Renovate Homes for Eledely Residents

SHANGHAI, 14th October 2010: Habitat for Humanity China is set to launch its first project in the commercial and financial hub of China after signing a partnership agreement for a pilot project to improve the living conditions of elderly people in Shanghai.

 

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Pilot project in Shanghai: Peter Witton, board chair of HFH China (center), with Shanghai People’s Congress Vice Chairman and Shanghai Senior Citizen’s Foundation President Hu Wei, general manager of HFH China’s Shanghai office Eric Arndt, (front row second from the right), and other officials after the signing.

In a project similar to one in Hong Kong, HFH China and Habitat volunteers will renovate or repair and generally tidy up homes for up to 20 elderly families in the initial phase of what is being termed the “Shanghai Age-Friendly Housing Renovation Project”.

The agreement was signed at the end of September with representatives of the Shanghai Senior Citizens’ Foundation. The signing ceremony was held in the city government offices of China’s largest city and was attended by senior representatives of the municipal Civil Affairs Bureau.

This marks the first Habitat project within the Shanghai metropolis, home to more than 17 million people. The one-year-old Shanghai office of the HFH China is involved with projects in provinces outside the city.

Speaking at the signing, Shanghai People’s Congress Vice Chairman and Shanghai Senior Citizen’s Foundation President Hu Wei stated: “We look forward to the support of organizations and concerned people everywhere to help improve our efforts, and provide greater care and help to Shanghai’s senior citizens. We hope to expand our joint efforts in the near future.”

The Shanghai Age-Friendly Housing Renovation Project will complement other Shanghai Senior Citizens’ Foundation programs meeting the health and community needs of senior citizens, including mobilizing funds for heart operations and organizing trips to the Shanghai World Expo, he added.

“We are aiming to improve the living environment of senior citizens in Shanghai renovations and installation of barrier‐free facilities, in order that people’s quality of life is improved,” said general manager of HFH China’s Shanghai office Eric Arndt. “HFH China will also engage the local community through volunteer and awareness‐raising activities.”

Shanghai has been described as the first “aging city” in China. By the end of 2009, more than 3.15 million of the city’s residents were above 60 years in age. More than four-in-ten live by themselves. Many lack family support, and are dependent on government subsidies, usually averaging around US$70 a month, for survival.

These elderly residents often live in old public apartments, which are not suited to the special needs of the elderly or disabled. Accidents are common, a according to the Shanghai Center for Disease Control. The center adds that the need for age‐friendly housing to preserve the health and quality of life for Shanghai’s impoverished senior citizens is clear.

HFH China is partnering to renovate the homes of up to 20 low‐income senior citizens in Yangpu and Zhabei districts.

Renovations will focus on improving health and safety such as improving electrical wiring, installing anti-slip flooring and handrails, and improving accessibility to bathrooms for those with handicaps. Volunteer workers will help select families, develop renovation plans, prepare worksites and participate in painting and installing fixtures.

Renovations for phase one are expected to get underway before the Spring Festival early in 2011 and to be completed by summer 2011.

The partners aim to further expand the project later in 2011.

Peter Witton, Chairman of HFH China, said: “Thanks to the Shanghai Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau and Shanghai Senior Citizens Foundation for welcoming us to the Shanghai community. We hope that through this project, we can help develop effective models for expanding access to age-friendly housing in Shanghai.”

In addition to the upcoming Shanghai Age-Friendly Housing Renovation Project, other HFH China programs in the Shanghai area include poverty housing alleviation work in Pinghu County, Zhejiang.

HFH China has also executed numerous projects in southwest China in recent years – including post-earthquake reconstruction programs in Sichuan and the 2009 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Qionglai city, Sichuan.

Shanghai Senior Citizens Foundation is a publicly funded foundation authorized by Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China. Its supervising government agency is the Shanghai Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau. Founded in December 1984, the Shanghai Senior Citizens Foundation’s mission is to serve the well being of senior citizens, and support senior citizens facing difficulties.

The Shanghai Senior Citizen’s Foundation aims to provide fundraising, programs, and communications in service of the Shanghai senior citizen community. Its programs include providing free cataract operations and cardiac surgeries; subsidies to support impoverished senior citizens; funding community elderly care facilities; and organizing entertainment activities; and supporting senior citizen trips to visit the Shanghai World Expo.

The foundation has raised more than RMB130 million (US$19.5 million) and distributed more than RMB40 million to charitable programs, benefiting 100,000 senior citizens.