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Habitat for Humanity International is deeply saddened by the death of Jack Kemp


In 2005, Jack Kemp helped dedicate Habitat for Humanity’s 200,000th milestone house built since the organization was founded in 1976.”

ATLANTA (May 3, 2009) – Habitat for Humanity International is deeply saddened by the death of the Hon. Jack Kemp. He died Saturday at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 73.

Kemp supported Habitat for Humanity’s work for more than a decade. He served on Habitat’s international board of directors from 2000-2007, a body that oversees the nonprofit’s worldwide work. He chaired Habitat’s “More Than Houses” capital campaign from 2000¬-2005, an effort that raised more than $500 million to build 100,000 houses. He also served as chair of Habitat’s “Rebuilding Our Communities Campaign” from 1998-2000, which helped build more than 50,000 homes.

“We are grateful for the servant leadership and kindness Jack Kemp showed toward Habitat for Humanity and the families in need of housing that we serve,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International. “Today, even as the entire Habitat family is saddened by this loss, Jack’s legacy lives on in the families who live in better conditions because of his efforts.”

Kemp’s spirit of generosity may be best summed up in a quote he provided for a 1995 book to benefit Habitat for Humanity, titled, “Home for the Holidays.” He wrote:

“But most important, we also take time for our American family, particularly the least privileged, the lost, and those left behind. After all, as my mother always told us throughout the years, those of us who are blessed have an obligation to be a blessing to others.”

As a high-profile supporter, Kemp helped bring attention to Habitat’s affordable-housing efforts. He served as master of ceremonies for the organization’s 200,000th house dedication in Knoxville, Tenn., in 2005. He helped launch Habitat’s Gulf Coast Recovery program, also in 2005. He attended dozens of fundraisers as chair of multiple capital campaigns and lent a hand at special builds such as Habitat’s Super Build during the 2004 NFL Super Bowl festivities.

“Jack Kemp was a leader in the housing industry,” said Ron Terwilliger, chair of the board of Habitat for Humanity International, and chairman of Trammell Crow Residential. “He was instrumental in providing homeownership and housing opportunities to underserved and working families across the county. His presence will be deeply missed, but his contributions will be felt for years to come.”

Kemp is survived by his wife, the former Joanne Main, four children and 17 grandchildren. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kemp played professional football for 13 years before being elected to Congress in 1970. He represented the Buffalo, N.Y., area for 18 years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Kemp served as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1989-1993. In 1996, Kemp ran for vice president. Kemp also founded and co-directed Empower America, a public policy and advocacy organization. He also founded and served as chairman of the consulting firm Kemp Partners.

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