VANCOUVER, British Columbia, (June 17, 2006) – Leaders from Habitat for Humanity International and the organization’s national office in Canada joined Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, executive director of UN-Habitat, today at a Habitat build site in Vancouver to commemorate the opening of the World Urban Forum III.
The biennial World Urban Forum was established by the United Nations to examine rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies and policies. The theme of this year’s forum, hosted by the Government of Canada, is “Our Future: Sustainable Cities – Turning Ideas into Action.”
The Burnaby Build site, where a 27-townhome complex is under construction near Vancouver, illustrates Habitat for Humanity’s contribution to sustainable cities.
“The Burnaby Build site is an example of how Habitat for Humanity is addressing the need for more affordable and sustainable home ownership in urban contexts, where the high cost of land makes affordable housing a special challenge,” said David Hughes, president and CEO, Habitat for Humanity Canada. “This is a significant issue, not just in Vancouver and surrounding communities, but around the world.”
Habitat for Humanity International operates in nearly 100 countries around the world, addressing urban and rural housing problems through local community initiatives and grassroots development. In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Habitat for Humanity compiled examples of 30 initiatives that highlight the organization’s efforts to provide housing solutions toward eradicating poverty housing worldwide. These 30 initiatives, including Vancouver’s Burnaby Build project, represent programs and activities of partnership, housing finance, innovation, and community development, illustrating the broad and diverse scope of Habitat for Humanity’s work around the world.
“Habitat for Humanity’s new plan calls for us to explore creative opportunities to provide more housing solutions to families throughout the world. Our relationships with UN-Habitat and other institutions are perfect examples of that,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “We want to cultivate a perspective in which a decent, affordable house, while fundamentally important, we feel, is part of broader notion of access to decent housing conditions.”
Habitat for Humanity and UN-Habitat have a strong and growing relationship that was formalized with the signing of an agreement of cooperation in September 2004 at the World Urban Forum in Barcelona, Spain. Both organizations share mutual goals and have agreed to work together to upgrade slums, improve housing conditions and provide basic human services in urban areas, particularly in countries ravaged by political unrest and natural disaster.
“I applaud our partnership with Habitat for Humanity,” said Tibaijuka at the Burnaby build site. “Housing problems exist in both rich and poor countries. This project illustrates a best practice of Habitat for Humanity; they deliver. I have the pleasure of visiting Habitat for Humanity houses around the world – in Indonesia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. Habitat for Humanity is an agency that has reached the world with housing.”
In addition to today’s event, Habitat for Humanity representatives from around the world will be participating in workshops and roundtables during the World Urban Forum to discuss the 30 initiatives highlighted and lay the groundwork for additional partnerships to work toward decent housing for all.
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 Americus, Ga., in 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than one million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org  .