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On World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity recognizes global housing need

In recognition of World Habitat Day 2008, global housing non-profit releases report

WASHINGTON (Oct. 6, 2008) – United Nations research predicts that by the year 2030 about 40 percent of the world’s population will lack access to housing. A statistic even more alarming is that an estimated 1.6 billion people are in need of decent housing today (UN-Habitat Report: 2005).

This stark reality is why Habitat for Humanity will mark World Habitat Day, Oct. 6, around the world by issuing a special report on secure tenure and the critical reminder of the need for affordable housing.

The United Nations designated the first Monday of October as World Habitat Day to remind the world of its collective responsibility to address substandard housing.

Habitat for Humanity’s “Shelter Report 2008: Building a secure future through effective land policies” (available at www.habitat.org/gov) outlines this worldwide issue and offers solutions on how to establish secure tenure, which assures people legal claim to their home or land. Security of tenure is out of reach for much of the world’s population and the lack of legal documentation of property rights has a direct impact on Habitat’s global efforts.

In Argentina, for example, most families who apply for Habitat homes are not the legal owners of their land. Without a deed, they are unable to participate in Habitat Argentina’s work. In Mozambique and other countries, Habitat for Humanity initiated inheritance law programs to protect women from forced evictions following the death of a spouse.

“In addition to building and repairing homes, Habitat for Humanity is committed to building strong sustainable communities,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “We’re about fostering hope, promise and possibility. We accomplish that when families can claim legal title to their home in which they live and to the land on which they root their families and their futures.”

In the United States the importance of secure tenure also is evident. Due to the custom of heirship property—land inherited informally and by numerous heirs – thousands of New Orleans residents were ineligible for post-Katrina aid without a formal title to their land, according to staff of New Orleans Legal Assistance, an organization that provides legal aid for low-income people.

“For many years, Habitat for Humanity has recognized the importance of World Habitat Day as an opportunity to call attention to the global housing need that affects people in every city and country around the world,” Reckford added.

More than 160 Habitat affiliates, campus chapters and national offices and volunteers are engaged in promoting World Habitat Day through fund raising, advocacy, builds and other events.

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 nearly 300,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for 1.5 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.