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Los Angeles Selected To Host Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy Carter Work Project in 2007

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LOS ANGELES, May 11, 2006 – Habitat for Humanity International leaders announced today that Los Angeles has been selected to host the 24th Jimmy Carter Work Project. The event has been scheduled for Oct. 28 – Nov. 2, 2007.

Former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter, along with his wife, Rosalynn, and Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford will join volunteers from the United States and around the world in Los Angeles to build and renovate houses in partnership with families in need.

Struggles with affordable housing are evident across Los Angeles. The median income of renter households in Los Angeles is $34,456 while the median price for a home is $535,000, making decent, affordable housing all but out of reach for people of modest means. Less than 3 percent of new units built in Los Angeles County meet the national standard for affordable housing. Eighteen percent of all Los Angeles County residents – more than 1.7 million people – live below the poverty level, or 22 percent more people living in poverty than in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi combined.

“The first step to solving the affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles, and for that matter throughout the world, is to shine a spotlight on the problem and implore all Americans to confront the issue,” said President Carter.

“Rosalynn and I are incredibly pleased that Los Angeles has agreed to host the project in 2007. We hope our efforts, and those of the thousands of Habitat volunteers who join us each year, will raise not only walls but awareness of the power we each have to create significant and substantive change in communities throughout California, our country and the world.”

“Across the country, the opportunity for first-time buyers to become homeowners continues to grow more challenging,” said Nicolas P. Retsinas, chair of Habitat for Humanity’s International Board of Directors and director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. “That problem is greatly magnified in metropolitan areas.”

Los Angeles, along with Miami and New York City, presents the greatest affordability problems, said Retsinas. In those cities, according to the Joint Center’s “The State of the Nation’s Housing” report, almost 20 percent of all households pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing.

“Taking Habitat’s highest profile building event to Los Angeles demonstrates our commitment to addressing housing problems in even the most difficult of settings,” added Retsinas. “Each year, the Jimmy Carter Work Project allows us to shine the spotlight on the need for affordable housing. At a time when easing the country’s housing affordability problem should concern every American, we are particularly pleased that Los Angeles, a city where the spotlight always shines brightly, has agreed to host this event.”

“The entire week will engage an unprecedented number of Angelenos from every cross-section of the city in efforts that we hope will ultimately continue beyond the five-day Jimmy Carter Work Project event,” said Erin Rank, president and chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles. “We hope to use this opportunity as a springboard to explore community collaboration and implement practical affordable housing solutions to reduce, and some day end, the housing crisis in Los Angeles.”

Since the first Jimmy Carter Work Project in New York City in 1984, President Carter has been drawn to Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to bring hope to people and areas often forgotten. More than 10 years ago, in 1995, the Carters and more than 1,500 Habitat volunteers built 21 houses in the Watts/Willowbrook community of Los Angeles. For the 2007 project, the Carters and HFHI will return to Los Angeles to help build the Harborside Terrace subdivision in San Pedro.

“I am proud to learn that Los Angeles was selected to host Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy Carter Work Project in 2007,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa. “Homelessness and a lack of affordable housing are plights of those living not only in the poorest of countries, but also in the wealthiest of cities in the wealthiest of nations - in cities like Los Angeles. We look forward to the positive impact that this international work project will have on our communities by increasing the supply of affordable housing in our city and by bringing national attention to these issues.”

Habitat for Humanity International’s Jimmy Carter Work Project is an annual, internationally recognized event in which the former U.S. president and his wife join Habitat volunteers to build simple, decent and affordable homes in partnership with people in need of both housing and hope. President Carter’s longstanding relationship with Habitat for Humanity began in 1984 when he donated one day of his carpentry skills and manual labor at a work site in Americus, Ga., home to Habitat’s international headquarters. Later that same year, the Carters led their first weeklong work project, helping to renovate a six-story, 19-unit building in New York City.

“Habitat for Humanity enjoys a great presence and reputation in Los Angeles and the state of California. We are proud to have more than 55 active affiliates throughout the state and 33 campus chapters at various colleges, universities and high schools,” said Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. “The Jimmy Carter Work Project provides a wonderful opportunity to continue to strengthen and build Habitat’s ministry in Los Angeles and engage people from all walks of life to volunteer and come together to help eliminate poverty housing from Los Angeles and the world.”

Jimmy Carter Work Projects have resulted in homes that house more than 10,000 people around the world in communities such as Detroit, New York City, Houston and Miami and in countries such as Hungary, the Philippines, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa.

This year’s JCWP will see 100 homes built in Lonavala, India, Oct. 29-Nov. 3. To learn more about the project, visit www.habitat.org/jcwp/2007.

About Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles serves 112 cities and unincorporated areas in Los Angeles County including 70 communities within the City of Los Angeles. Habitat Partner Families earn 25 to 50 percent of area median income. For Los Angeles County, that translates to as little as $13,750 / year for a family of four. Partner families must also meet the following requirements: demonstrated need for adequate shelter; ability to pay back a zero-interest loan; and willingness to partner with HFH GLA to invest 500 sweat equity hours into building their home. www.habitatla.org.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in Americus, Ga., in 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.