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Habitat Develops Prison Programs

Americus, Ga. - July 9, 1999 - Habitat for Humanity International is developing a program to help give prisoners a second chance on working life while building houses with low-income homeowners.

The prison program works in cooperation with prisons and neighboring Habitat for Humanity affiliates to teach inmates valuable trades in construction. While in prison inmates build prefabricated walls that are shipped to Habitat for Humanity construction sites. At the sites, the pre-fabricated walls are placed together by Habitat volunteers and future homeowners. In some instances, low-security-risk inmates have worked directly with volunteers and homeowners on Habitat construction sites.

Inmates also may earn house construction hours, called sweat equity, certificates for their labor. Once ex-convicts have established a stable income they can apply their earned sweat equity towards required 300 to 500 work hours on their own Habitat for Humanity house.

“The Prison Program gives hope and self confidence to prisoners by allowing them to creatively work out frustrations and break communication obstacles between races while developing a marketable skills,” said Christine Ta, the new and first Director of Prison Programs. Ta is from Los Angeles, where she worked as an immigration lawyer.

The Prison Programs prison chapter was first formally chartered in Dallas, Texas and is taking shape among 75 Habitat affiliates across the United States.

“The prisoners who participate with Habitat for Humanity will gain a renewed belief in themselves,” said Millard Fuller, founder and president of Habitat for Humanity International. “Habitat for Humanity is building more than houses. We are building lives.”

Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, worldwide ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Habitat brings together people with resources and people in need to build simple, decent, affordable houses. The homes are sold to those in need at no profit, through no-interest loans. Founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller along with his wife Linda, Habitat for Humanity has built more than 75,000 houses, providing shelter for more than 375,000 people worldwide. It has affiliates in every state of the United States and in 63 other countries around the world.