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Students Nationwide Advocate for Affordable Housing With "HabiFest"

Students Nationwide Advocate for Affordable Housing With “HabiFest”

AMERICUS, GA., April 9, 2003–More than 10,000 students around the country are uniting to celebrate Habitat for Humanity’s second annual HabiFest, the nationwide student-initiated day of advocating for affordable housing. Students at 150 high school and college campuses are staging HabiFest activities–such as “shack-a-thons,” “sleep outs,” political-action days, scavenger hunts, housing symposiums, awareness walks and campus rallies–to highlight the worldwide need for quality, low-cost housing.

“We are excited that our young people want to get involved in helping families in their communities who are less fortunate,” said Millard Fuller, founder and president of Habitat for Humanity International. “We know that with the help of today’s youth, high school and college students, we can eliminate substandard housing from the face of the earth.”

Statistics show 25 percent of the world’s population–1.5 billion people–live in poverty housing or no housing. In the United States alone, 5.3 million households qualify as substandard housing that threatens health or safety.

“The fact that 150 high school and college campuses are advocating to eliminate poverty housing worldwide through HabiFest 2003 says students across the nation are demanding the human right to decent, affordable housing for all people,” said Jenny Whitcher, president of the New York University Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter. “It takes more than a hammer and it takes more than one voice. All students need to believe–absolutely–that together they can make a difference.”

The following are some HabiFest highlights around the country:

New York University will feature an afternoon HabiFest street fair with a variety of booths and activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, at Schwartz Plaza. At 7 p.m. in NYU’s Schimmel Hall, an educational symposium on “The State of Affordable Housing: Are We Making Progress?” will include an address from Eva Amurri, daughter of actress Susan Sarandon, about her support of Habitat for Humanity’s Youth United program.

Easton High School (Easton, Md.) students will make presentations about homelessness, substandard housing, and Habitat for Humanity to children at four area elementary schools. Easton High School’s morning announcements will feature poverty housing facts, as well as a display case about Habitat for Humanity’s work as part of HabiFest.

Florida Southern College (Lakeland, Fla.) plans a HabiFest letter-writing campaign to Congress in support of funding for affordable housing. Chapter members also will write poverty statistics and Habitat facts in chalk on campus sidewalks and will set up an information table in a prime location on campus to spread the word about the housing needs and HabiFest.

Macalester College (St. Paul, Minn.) and two Twin Cities-area student groups–Students Mobilizing to End Homelessness and the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter–are planning a day of action at the Minnesota State Capitol. Students will stage skits, meet with legislators and attract media support for housing and homelessness issues.

Northern Illinois University (Dekalb, Ill.) is planning their second annual “HabiFest Awareness Walk,” which will include a scavenger hunt for information about poverty housing. A HabiFest rally will follow a daylong campus contest, including activities such as a “One Hit Club” (driving a nail with one stroke of the hammer), a Lego house-building contest and a banner-creation contest.

St. Mary’s College (Moraga, Calif.) will have a HabiFest outdoor barbecue lunch for students on the school meal plan. Campus chapter members will invite students and staff to help sand and put shingles on a mini-house. Students also will post and hand out fliers on homelessness and housing issues. A HabiFest fund-raiser at a local restaurant will donate 15% of the night’s earnings to the chapter.

Sioux Center High School (Sioux Center, Iowa) students are planning to “sleep out” overnight in a city park, following a HabiFest fund-raiser and a day of outdoor activities in the park to raise awareness about substandard housing in the community.

Sterling College (Sterling, Kan.) is building a “Walk through a Substandard House” to give community residents a first-hand look at life in poverty housing. The students also will convene a HabiFest Town Meeting and stage a multiple-night “sleep out” to raise awareness about the lack of affordable housing.

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Minneapolis) will have a day of action featuring several speakers, including the mayor of Minneapolis, a representative from “Housing Minnesota” and the executive director of the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 3,000 communities in 87 nations have built and sold more than 125,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.