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Mayors’ Habitat experience underscores need for affordable housing

Mayors underscore need for affordable housing

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2004 — Mayors from cities across the nation will converge on a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Boston to call national attention to the need for affordable housing opportunities in the country’s urban centers.

On June 25, mayors attending the 72nd annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors will help erect the frame of one Habitat house and build on another nearly completed unit in the Blue Hill Place community. The build will occur at 350 Blue Hill Ave., in Dorchester.

In its eighth year, “The Habitat House the Mayors Built” serves as a rallying point for mayors to join Habitat for Humanity and explore innovative projects in affordable housing while working alongside Habitat partner families in the construction of their new homes. It is a featured event each June in observance of National Homeownership Month sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Our partnership with U.S. mayors is just one more way we call the nation’s attention to the need for decent and affordable housing in the United States,” said Tom Jones, vice president, Habitat for Humanity International. “In addition to building houses, this partnership and motivates us to put our heads together in search of housing solutions in our cities.”

Built on a site burned during the 1968 riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and left vacant since, Blue Hill Place is a rich example of urban renewal and provides a model that can be replicated around the country. The 1.2-acre site feature 22 single family units, a neighborhood plaza and playground.

“I applaud the USCM for drawing attention to the very important issue of affordable housing and welcome my fellow mayors to this Boston construction site,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who made housing his priority during his recent term as president of USCM. “We are pleased to have Habitat join us as a partner in our affordable housing and urban revitalization efforts.”

The project is being funded by private donations and contributions of building materials and supplies totaling some $2 million. The land for the site was secured by the Greater Boston Habitat of Humanity from the City of Boston in November 2002. As an underwriter of “The Habitat House the Mayors Built,” national mortgage investor Freddie Mac is sponsoring construction of one house.

“Freddie Mac is proud to join Mayor Menino and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to make ‘The Houses the Mayors Built’ possible because we put our mission to affordable homeownership first,” said Jim Park, Freddie Mac’s vice president of Industry Relations and Housing Outreach. “Building this new Boston home underscores our goal of strengthening America’s cities and neighborhoods by making homeownership more affordable for America’s families.”

About the U.S. Conference of Mayors
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today, each represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor. www.usmayors.org

About Freddie Mac
Freddie Mac is a stockholder-owned corporation chartered by Congress in 1970 to create a continuous flow of funds to mortgage lenders. By supplying lenders with the money to make mortgages and packaging the mortgages into marketable securities, Freddie Mac sustains a stable mortgage credit system and reduces the mortgage rates paid by homebuyers. Over the years, Freddie Mac has opened the doors for one in six homebuyers in America and two million renters. More information on Freddie Mac can be found on the company’s web site located at www.freddiemac.com.

About Habitat for Humanity of Greater Boston
Established in 1987, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Boston has built or renovated 65 homes with families in need. Habitat Boston is a Christian-based non-profit organization dedicated to building decent, affordable homes in partnership with very low-income families. Currently Habitat Boston is working on homes in South Boston and Blue Hill Place in Dorchester. www.habitatboston.org

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is a Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. By the end of 2005, Habitat will have built its 200,000th house and more than one million people will be living in Habitat homes they helped build and are buying through no-profit, zero-interest mortgages. www.habitat.org