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Former President and First Lady commemorate World Habitat Day with kick off to the 27th annual Carter Work Project

WASHINGTON (Oct. 4, 2010) – Today, to mark the United Nations’ World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity is kicking off its 27th annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, as well as other building and awareness-raising events across the United States and around the world.

President and Mrs. Carter, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Habitat for Humanity International chief executive officer Jonathan Reckford and volunteers are helping to renovate and build 12 homes in Washington’s Ivy City neighborhood today. Throughout the week, the Carters will join 1,000 volunteers to build, rehabilitate and repair a total of 86 homes in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; and Birmingham, Alabama.

“Rosalynn and I are pleased to join Habitat for Humanity volunteers in these communities to help raise walls on new homes and improve existing housing,” said President Carter. “Families will realize new or improved housing conditions as a result of this week’s efforts to bring attention to the need for simple, decent and affordable housing.”

The United Nations’ World Habitat Day is held each year on the first Monday of October. As part of its awareness-raising emphasis, Habitat for Humanity International is expanding its 2010 World Habitat Day into weeklong events. People around the world have joined together to advocate for the need and importance of housing and to exchange ideas. More than 300 Habitat for Humanity World Habitat Day events have been registered and descriptions can be found at http://www.habitat.org/cd/local/event.aspx?type=11.

“Shelter plays a critical role in the health of individual families and the well-being of communities, providing an opportunity for more public, private and nonprofit partnerships to address this global issue,” said Reckford.

According to the United Nations, 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing and 100 million are homeless. This year, Habitat is highlighting the needs of communities in recovery in the United States, and as a result of Habitat’s 2011 Shelter Report findings, will focus on the critical link between health and housing overseas.

The report explores how housing and housing-related basics such as water and sanitation are linked and contends that a growing body of research demonstrates that substandard housing has a major impact on public health in poor and affluent countries alike. The Shelter Report is available online and can be accessed at http://www.habitat.org/gov/take_action/shelter_report_2011.aspx.

“As Habitat volunteers build and rehabilitate homes to revitalize neighborhoods across the United States, we remain grateful to the service of President and Mrs. Carter who have contributed more than a quarter of a century of support to Habitat for Humanity,” said Reckford.

One of the ways Habitat is able to help communities in recovery is through Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. Habitat’s initiative aims to support local Habitat affiliates to serve more families by responding to community needs with an expanded array of products as part of community development that enhances quality of life. Habitat affiliates and their neighborhood partners will decide on the work carried out locally, but the initiative’s services may include new house construction, rehabilitation of vacant properties (including foreclosed properties), house repairs for existing low-income homeowners, weatherization to make houses more energy-efficient and affordable, and community planning partnerships to ensure more services are available to further stabilize communities.

President and Mrs. Carter give a week of their time each year to help Habitat build, renovate or repair homes and raise awareness about the need for affordable and decent housing. Similar to Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, the Carters joined Habitat for Humanity in 1984 to help renovate a decaying building in New York City’s Lower East Side. Today, the building is part of a thriving, reinvigorated and dynamic community. Since that first build, the Carters and thousands of volunteers have worked with Habitat for Humanity across the United States and in Mexico, Canada, Hungary, South Africa, South Korea, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Laos and Vietnam.

Later in the evening on World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity’s “Thanks a Million! A salute to the life and service of our most famous volunteers—Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter” gala in Washington, D.C., will be held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.

The evening will include a memorable celebration of the Carters’ 27 years of service to Habitat and of their lifetime commitment to strengthening democracy and alleviating poverty. Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Frank Blake of The Home Depot, Andrew N. Liveris of Dow and Larry Stone of Lowe’s Corporation are gala co-chairs. HUD Secretary Donovan will serve as the guest speaker.

This year, Habitat’s Carter Work Project sponsors include Wells Fargo, The Dow Chemical Company, Lowe’s, Whirlpool Corporation, Bank of America, Nissan North America, Promontory Group, Schneider Electric and Valspar. Additionally, the Dow Chemical Company, Lowe’s and The Home Depot Foundation, as well as Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, are serving as co-chairs and Chairman Circle sponsors of the gala tribute to the Carters in Washington, D.C. They are joined by a range of corporate, individual and faith-based supporters.

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, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 350,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.75 million people. For more information, or to donate or volunteer, visit www.habitat.org.