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Habitat headquarters to remain in Georgia

Habitat for Humanity headquarters to remain in Georgia

AMERICUS, Ga. (Oct. 28, 2005) – Habitat for Humanity International will keep its headquarters in Americus, its historic home, but has announced its intent to establish an administrative office in the greater Atlanta area as well, members of the global house-building ministry’s international board of directors decided this week.

“The board has been reviewing, for several months, how best for Habitat to ensure and enhance its mission-focused work,” said Nicolas P. Retsinas, new chair of Habitat’s board and director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. “We believe this decision serves Habitat for Humanity’s strategic needs, but also assures supporters of our total, ongoing commitment to being wise stewards of their trust and their dollars. The decision respects our roots, and builds a platform for even greater impact.”

Meeting in Baltimore, the board also approved a new five-year strategic plan for Habitat, which this year completed its 200,000th home, housing its millionth person since 1976. The plan will enable Habitat to improve its ability to mobilize people, and financial and social capital, and to better serve as a partner and catalyst for worldwide access to decent, safe, affordable housing.

The total number of employees expected to be affected by the decision to establish a satellite administrative office is fewer than 100, said Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. Reckford will maintain two offices, splitting his time between the administrative office in or near Atlanta and the operational office in Habitat’s native city in southwest Georgia.

Nearly 300 staff members will remain in Americus, Reckford said, adding that “in all, Habitat has more than 800 staff around the world, in cities and communities across America, and throughout the world, with area hubs in Hungary, Costa Rica, South Africa and Thailand. This move will help us help more families move into simple, decent, healthy homes.”

President Jimmy Carter, Habitat for Humanity’s best known volunteer for more than 20 years, said, “Habitat for Humanity’s first priority is to its mission, demonstrating God’s love through action - through the hand up that it has given families for nearly 30 years.

“The board’s decision balances respect for the past - Habitat’s historic founding in Sumter County - with the needs of the future - establishing and managing partnerships, projects and programs with 21st century efficiency.

Habitat has long had more than half its total employees stationed in other locations, and I understand that no one will be laid off in Americus as a direct result of the relocation. The official headquarters designation and public mailing address for all direct mail and marketing will not be changed.”

The decision, he said, demonstrates the board’s unwavering commitment to Habitat’s Christian mission.

“Our roots go deep here in Americus,” said Reckford, “all the way back to 1942 when Clarence and Florence Jordan and Mabel and Martin England came to Sumter County to live out the teachings of Jesus in an interracial community they named Koinonia Farm. Their vision, along with that of Millard and Linda Fuller, eventually would result in the founding of Habitat for Humanity. Deep roots, and respecting the past, are important, and we will not waver from keeping a promise to that past.”

Noting Habitat’s global impact, the board, said Reckford, “sees in Atlanta improved access to our regional and international offices, key partners, customers and others stakeholders. And we see there increased availability of support services on which all organizations must rely in this highly technical age.”

Habitat does not envision a new Atlanta-area office opening before next summer, he added, though some positions may be located there in advance to lay the groundwork for the new office and to begin developing relationships that will serve Habitat well there. No specific decisions have been announced as to which jobs or positions will be moved to the Atlanta area, nor has an office location been identified. The final decisions are contingent, Reckford said, on being able to secure funding and concessions for an appropriate space at an acceptable price.

“Habitat’s overall goal is to be where we can function most efficiently and most effectively, to provide workplaces that allow every staff member to contribute their very best efforts to the mission we share. We’re in this together. And working together, we will build an ever stronger organization,” said Retsinas.

The decision, along with the provisions of the new strategic plan, will enable Habitat to serve even more families in need,” said Retsinas. “With our people and this plan, we expect to see a period of unprecedented growth in the organization, to double capacity and opportunity, to move ever closer to the day when no one lacks for a safe and healthy home.”

Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than one million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.