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Habitat for Humanity joins Ashoka in sponsoring online competition to recognize affordable housing solutions

AMERICUS, Ga. (Aug. 15, 2006) – Habitat for Humanity and Ashoka announce the 2006 Changemakers Innovation Awards competition titled, “How to Provide Affordable Housing,” to recognize innovative housing solutions around the world. Individuals and organizations can apply online at www.changemakers.net.

Changemakers is an initiative of Ashoka, a pioneering “social entrepreneur” organization that supports outstanding individuals with ideas for far-reaching social change. Since 1981, Ashoka has invested in more than 1,700 social entrepreneurs in 62 countries worldwide. This year is the first time Habitat for Humanity has been involved in the competition.

“The 2006 Changemakers Innovation Awards celebrates remarkable individuals and organizations who are coming up with ideas that create opportunities for some of the world’s poorest families to have a safe, decent, affordable place to call home,” said Steve Weir, Asia-Pacific vice president for Habitat for Humanity and one of the competition’s judges. “Practical solutions that work can have a profound influence as we face the challenge of tackling poverty housing in today’s world. The United Nations estimates one out of every three city residents – an estimated one billion people – are slum dwellers, and the need for affordable housing in rural areas is just as daunting.”

The 2006 Changemakers Innovation Awards competition is open to individuals, charitable organizations, private companies or public entities from any country. The key focus is on actual housing solutions for a significant number of people, not only in the location of origin, but also at the country, regional or global level. Submissions will be judged on the basis of their innovation, impact, strategy and sustainability.

A team of five judges will identify finalists, which the public can then vote among online. The judges are Peter Kimm, chairman of the board of the International Housing Coalition; Dr. George McCarthy, a senior program officer in development finance and economic security at the Ford Foundation; Erika Poethig, human and community development program officer with The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Jeff Schaffer, assistant vice president, grant programs for the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; and Weir.

Public online participation is a unique feature of the 2006 Changemakers Innovation Awards. Members of the public are encouraged to critique the online submissions, and applicants can refine their submissions based on the feedback to improve their chances of winning.

The top three winners will be selected by a public online poll, each receiving a cash prize of US$5,000. The Changemakers Innovation Award winners will be announced on Oct. 12, 2006.

About Habitat for Humanity
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.