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World Habitat Day maze exhibit on National Mall a reminder of 1 billion people living in slums




WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 1, 2007) — Habitat for Humanity constructed a maze on the National Mall today as a visual representation of the devastating, appalling and unacceptable truth that more than 1 billion people live and raise their families in slums without the hope of adequate shelter, clean water or sanitation. Part of World Habitat Day 2007, the exhibit allowed the public and Congressional leaders to trek down the paths of two children, one from a rural village and another from an urban slum, to discover the harsh reality of living in poverty housing.

Through graphic illustrations and narrative, the public witnessed the conditions of tiny, unventilated rooms that millions of people wake up in, the daily struggle to find clean drinking water and the disease inflicted upon children living in poverty housing.

“This maze reveals many housing hardships that a lot of people can barely fathom or choose largely to ignore. Today, on World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity and our proclamation partners hope to open peoples’ eyes to the scandal of poverty housing – to make it real and tangible – and to encourage maze visitors to voice their own intolerance of poverty housing by signing our World Habitat Day proclamation. Together, we can help slam the door on poverty housing worldwide and open the door to a world in which everyone enjoys the dignity a decent home affords.,” Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, said today in New York at the United Nations where he spoke on housing issues.

The exhibit is a visual reinforcement of the World Habitat Day 2007 proclamation to ‘slam the door’ on poverty housing, which is endorsed by U.N.-Habitat, Habitat for Humanity International, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former U.S. President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, and other international development organizations. By visiting, the public can contribute to the continued effort to end global poverty.

After its appearance on the National Mall, the exhibit will travel to New Orleans Oct. 8 where it will be part of a national leadership conference for Habitat for Humanity affiliates from across the United States. The next stop is Los Angeles on Oct. 28 where it will be part of the 24th annual Jimmy Carter Work Project. The exhibit will appear in Atlanta in November and then will be hosted by some of Habitat’s 1,600 affiliates throughout the country.

The World Habitat Day 2007 proclamation is endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bread for the World, CARE USA, Catholic Relief Services, Church World Service, Counterpart International, Habitat for Humanity International, International Housing Coalition, International Medical Corps, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, National Peace Corps Association, ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History, PACT, Plan USA, Save the Children US, UN-Habitat, Women’s Edge Coalition, World Vision and World Concern.

Habitat for Humanity International also is supporting the Global Resources and Opportunities for Women to Thrive Act (GROWTH Act), groundbreaking U.S. legislation that proposes important change to U.S. international assistance and trade programs to prioritize the economic opportunities of women living in poverty worldwide. Habitat for Humanity International has helped win strong bipartisan Congressional support of the act, which was recently re-introduced by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) in the U.S. House of Representatives and by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) in the Senate.

Investing in women is one of the surest routes to end poverty in the developing world. Women currently make up 60 to 70 percent of the world’s poor, do 66 percent of the world’s work, but control only 15 percent of the world’s property.

The innovative provisions of the GROWTH Act will give women worldwide the opportunity to start businesses, provide women with property rights and help women get better jobs. If passed, this legislation will help millions of women worldwide.

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 1976, Habitat has built more than 225,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit