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Habitat and Congress Build Together During National Homeownership Month

Habitat for Humanity International Kicks Off Homeownership Month by Launching ‘Congress Building America’

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WASHINGTON – June 3, 2003 – Habitat for Humanity International launched this year’s National Homeownership Month by announcing a new program, Congress Building America, to provide the opportunity for hundreds of low-income families to become homeowners. A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives are original co-sponsors of Senate and House Concurrent Resolutions supporting Congress Building America, which encourages all members of Congress to build Habitat houses in their respective states and districts during each session of Congress.

Millard Fuller, founder and president of Habitat for Humanity; The Honorable Mel Martinez, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Nic Retsinas, Director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and eleven members of Congress held a press event this morning at the Russell Senate Office Building announcing Congress Building America and addressing the issue of homeownership. Members of Congress participating in today’s event included: Senators Allard (R-CO), Conrad (D-ND), Dole (R-NC), Landrieu (D-LA), Reed (D-RI), Chambliss (R-GA), Sarbanes (D-MD) and Representatives Harris (R-FL) and Walsh (R-NY), Etheridge (D-NC), Ney (R-OH).

“I am pleased that the Senate has seized the opportunity to promote homeownership nationwide by unanimously passing this legislation,” U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, co-sponsor of the Senate Resolution said. “I am confident that Congress Building America will direct new resources and attention to this important issue and enable Congress to be a catalyst in the creation of strong families and stable neighborhoods, one home at a time.”

“We need all the bipartisanship we can get, and thanks to Habitat for Humanity we’re going to achieve it when members of Congress from both sides of the aisle join together en masse to help build homes for families in need,” said U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, who co-sponsored the Concurrent Resolution in the House. “Separate Habitat for Humanity collaborations with the House and Senate have succeeded spectacularly in the past, and this ambitious new project involving both houses at once promises to be the most successful of all.”

Nic Retsinas, Director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, offered preliminary findings from the Center’s report – State of the Nation’s Housing –scheduled for official release on June 17th. Among other facts, the report shows that with the addition of 1.1 million owners, the national homeownership rate reached another high of 67.9 percent in 2002.

The Congress Building America launch concluded with Millard Fuller and Secretary Martinez showcasing HUD’s ‘Homeownership Express.’ The Homeownership Express is a HUD sponsored bus that will travel the country during National Homeownership Month. The bus will travel throughout June, attending events and highlighting features of affordable homeownership: homeownership education, affordable homes, down payment assistance, and mortgage financing options.

“HUD strongly supports this valuable opportunity for members of Congress to demonstrate their commitment to increasing minority and affordable homeownership in a hands-on approach, one family at a time,” said Secretary Martinez.

“When these members of Congress roll up their sleeves and pick up a hammer to build Habitat homes, they leave behind a legacy of stronger families and stronger communities,” said Millard Fuller. “We are so grateful for their dedication and commitment to providing safe and decent shelter for families in need.”

The original 10 co-sponsors of Senate Concurrent Resolution 43 include: Senators Allard (R-CO), Brownback (R-KS), Cantwell (D-WA), Chambliss (R-GA), Conrad (D-ND), Dole (R-NC), Landrieu (D-LA), Reed (D-RI), Santorum (R-PA), Stabenow (D-MI). The original 7 co-sponsors of House Concurrent Resolution 184 include: Representatives Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Boehner (R-OH), Harris (R-FL), Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Mollohan (D-WV), Price (D-NC), and Walsh (R-NY).

The National Underwriters for Congress Building America are: America’s Community Bankers, Andersen Windows Corporation, The Dow Chemical Company, Fannie Mae, Federal Home Loan Banks, First Horizon Home Loans, Freddie Mac, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of REALTORS®, Noesis, Inc, PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., and Whirlpool Corporation.

About Habitat for Humanity International

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 nearly 150,000 homes with partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages. For more information about Habitat for Humanity International, please visit the web site at http://www.habitat.org/.

Note to editors: For additional quotes from speakers and to view the event via the web, log onto: http://www.habitat.org/newsroom. See: Habitat for Humanity International Launches Congress Building America.