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Historic award for lumber purchases gives Habitat big building boost

AMERICUS, Ga. (Oct. 13, 2006) – An agreement between the governments of the United States and Canada will give Habitat for Humanity $100 million for softwood lumber purchases to accelerate house-building with low-income families across the United States.

The award will be made to Habitat for Humanity International for distribution to U.S. affiliates. The funds will be allocated through 4,000 grants of $25,000 each—the cost of lumber for the typical U.S. Habitat home. Lumber purchases account for about one-third of the cost of a Habitat house.

Priority for the grants will go to affiliates in timber-reliant states. Twenty percent of the funds—or 800 of the $25,000 grants—will support lumber purchases for building Habitat homes in communities recovering from natural disasters.

The funds are aimed at building the capacity of U.S. affiliates to significantly increase house construction. By leveraging the funds to raise additional money for non-lumber costs, affiliates would be able to build an additional 4,000 homes over the next three to five years.

“On behalf of the families who will move into the houses this initiative allows, we are extraordinarily grateful,” said Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. “Every day, our affiliates see families who are desperate to find affordable housing and are willing to work hard for it. The shortage of decent, affordable housing is a problem that is growing and it outpaces any one organization’s ability to respond. But this gift–the largest lump-sum donation in Habitat for Humanity’s history–combined with Habitat’s self-help housing know-how and its dedicated volunteer builders means that thousands of additional low-income families will be able to realize the American dream of homeownership.

“We are tremendously appreciative,” added Reckford. “The confidence demonstrated by this award is a tribute to the outstanding work of Habitat affiliates. Through dedicated volunteers and careful stewardship of all resources donated to them, affiliates are serving families in need of housing and helping to build better communities as a result. This award can only enhance those efforts.”

The $100 million award to Habitat is part of a larger grant provided through the U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement. The agreement allowed for the distribution of $450 million to meritorious initiatives in the United States surrounding issues of assistance for timber-reliant communities, low-income housing and disaster relief, and the promotion of sustainable forest management practices.

Other recipients of agreement funds include the American Forest Foundation and United States Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

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 in 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. Future homeowners help build their homes and then buy them through affordable, no-profit mortgages; their payments go into a Fund for Humanity to build additional homes. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.