The New York City leg of this year's Jimmy Carter Work Project takes place at sites in Harlem and the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. President Carter will work on Habitat for Humanity's 100,000th house at the Harlem site on Monday and Tuesday, Sept.11-12.
The landmark 100,000th house is one of 22 units under construction in New York City this week. The 10-unit Harlem site where Carter will build is a rehabilitation project of a formerly abandoned apartment building. The Brooklyn houses are attached, single-family row houses.
Volunteers for the build have been drawn primarily from the New York City faith community. About 150 faith groups -- including Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations -- have contributed time or money to the Jimmy Carter Work Project 2000. The effort to bring the diverse groups together were led by the Rev. Dr. Tom Tewell, pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church and a long-time Habitat volunteer.
The build officially kicked off Sunday night with a star-studded concert at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. Featuring stars as diverse as the Dove Award winners, Anointed, and the cast of the Broadway hit, Swing!, the concert was a celebration of the JCWP's return to New York City after 15 years.
"Habitat for Humanity has been a piece of the much larger effort to alleviate the poverty housing situation in New York, which is extreme," says Roland Lewis, executive director of Habitat for Humanity-New York City. "Habitat keeps in public consciousness that there are tens of thousands of New Yorkers without a decent place to live."
According to Lewis, more than half a million people pay more than half their incomes for housing in New York City, and a typical New York family has to wait eight years to get into public housing. Despite the grim statistics, HFH-New York City is making a difference not only by building houses, but also by building communities.
Habitat for Humanity-New York City is one of more than 1,500 United States affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International. The affiliate was created in 1984 when New York City was selected as the site of the first Jimmy Carter Work Project and currently builds in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.
"Each home we build changes people's lives, and that's what it comes down to," Lewis said.