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Hammers at ready for Habitat’s 2005 Carter project

Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy Carter Work Project 2005

AMERICUS, Ga. (May 31, 2005) – “Have hammer, will travel” is more than a play on an old television show, it’s a mantra that soon will be heard – through the din of thousands of hammers driving millions of nails – as Habitat for Humanity launches its signature building event, the 2005 Jimmy Carter Work Project, across Michigan.

The hammers will be borne by thousands of volunteers who will be joining former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, state and federal lawmakers, religious and corporate leaders to build 230 homes in Michigan and in Windsor, Canada. The volunteers will come from Michigan, from other states and countries to work with families they’ve never met and likely will never meet again to help them realize the dream of owning their own simple, decent home.

Approximately 90 of the homes – including 20 and 30 respectively in the host cities of Benton Harbor and Detroit – will be blitz built from foundation to completion in a week during the project. Other homes in communities across the Wolverine State were started months ago to ensure that smaller Habitat affiliates could participate in the project, yet meet the same June 24 goal.

“This is a first-of-its-kind event for us,” said Paul Leonard, Habitat’s chief executive officer. “We’ve built in more than one city at a time (Anniston, Ala., and LaGrange and Valdosta, Ga., in 2003; and Puebla and Veracruz, Mexico, in 2004), but we’ve never had a statewide event such as this.

“Even more, this build has an international angle to it, as six homes are being built across the river in Windsor, Ontario, Canada,” said Leonard. “This is a hands, hammers and homes across the border build for Habitat, and we are all very excited about it.”

Ken Bensen, Habitat for Humanity Michigan director, said he hopes the noise will be deafening, and not just from the more than nine million nails that will be used to build the homes (more than 40,000 nails per house). “Part of the goal of the Carter work project is to shine a spotlight on the need for affordable housing in Michigan and elsewhere,” said Bensen.

“Michigan ranks 48th out of 50 states in state funding for affordable housing. We have nearly 375,000 families in Michigan spending more than half of their income for housing costs; these families need our help. These 230 Habitat for Humanity homes are a start, but we will need others to join us in this effort.”

Along with the Carters, other officials and dignitaries expected to take part in the project include Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and her husband, Daniel G. Mulhern; U.S. and state representatives and senators from Michigan; mayors and city and county officials; , ministers, and laypeople from numerous denominations; Habitat for Humanity senior leaders and board members; Canadian officials; corporate officers and volunteers from sponsors such as Whirlpool, MASCO, Dow, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Great Lakes Capital Fund, Lowe’s, and others.

“The foundations are in and the families are waiting,” said Rob Dewaelsche, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Detroit. “They’re ready to go.”

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.