Volunteer Build Kicks Off Three-Year Commitment to Los Angeles and Shines Spotlight on Affordable Housing Needs
LOS ANGELES (October 29, 2007) – Nearly one in five of Los Angeles County's 10 million residents live in poverty and the median cost of a home far exceeds the majority of the population's reach. The statistics are staggering and the crisis is very real. To address the region's lack of affordable housing, Los Angeles was chosen as the host city for Habitat for Humanity's Jimmy Carter Work Project 2007 (www.habitat.org ). Yesterday, former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, joined city and state officials and volunteers from around the world to kick off the 24th Jimmy Carter Work Project (www.jcwpla.org ). The project is an intensive week-long build that takes place in a different location around the world each year.
“The first step to solving the affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles and throughout the world is to bring attention to the problem and ask concerned citizens to confront the issue,” said President Carter. “Rosalynn and I are pleased to be in Los Angeles this week with thousands of Habitat volunteers and supporters to raise both walls and awareness of the power we each have to create significant change in communities throughout Los Angeles, our country, and the world.”
Habitat’s Jimmy Carter Work Project is extraordinary by its very concept: over the course of five days, thousands of volunteers will help low-income families take a giant step forward toward the dream of securing homeownership. As part of the Jimmy Carter Work Project, 100 houses will be built or rehabilitated by the end of this year. This is also the first Jimmy Carter Work Project to seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the build from the U.S. Green Building Council, making the homes more sustainable and affordable for the partner families. Thirty new Habitat homes will be built at two sites in South Los Angeles and San Pedro, and an additional 70 homes belonging to low-income families will be rehabilitated this week and through the end of the year in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles' "A Brush with Kindness" program (www.habitatla.org ). This program is designed to help homeowners make repairs on homes they are not able to maintain due to physical or financial reasons.
An opening ceremony, held near one of the project’s build sites located in San Pedro, added fanfare to the event, with festivities celebrating volunteers and partner families. President Carter was joined by many of California's civic leaders, who are committed to addressing the serious problems experienced by families living in substandard housing, including cost burden, overcrowding and compromised health. Participants and supporters included: Gov. Schwarzenegger, First Lady Maria Shriver, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Congresswomen Maxine Waters and Jane Harman, Los Angeles City Council members Janice Hahn, Bill Rosendahl, and Eric Garcetti, and Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. Emceed by Paige Hemmis (“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”), other participants and supporters of the Jimmy Carter Work Project include country musician Garth Brooks, musician Trisha Yearwood, Blair Underwood (“Dirty Sexy Money” and “LA Law”), Lowe’s NASCAR and ALMS driver Adrian
Fernandez, Patricia Heaton (“Back to You” and “Everybody Loves Raymond”), Scott Foley (“The Unit” and “Felicity”), Amaury Nolasco (“Prison Break”), Nathalia Ramos (“Bratz”) and Glynn Turman (“The Wire” and “A Different World”).
"I am proud to welcome Habitat for Humanity's Jimmy Carter Work Project to Los Angeles," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "Homelessness and the lack of affordable housing are not just problems in the world's poorest countries; they afflict people in the wealthiest cities and nations. We are excited about the positive impact that this international work project will have on our communities by increasing the supply of affordable housing in our city. Great things are possible when we work together to address these issues."
The work that will be highlighted this week jump starts Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles' “Building a Greater Los Angeles” campaign (www.habitatla.org/our_projects ), a three-year commitment to build an additional 150 homes throughout Los Angeles County after the Jimmy Carter Work Project is completed. The campaign, co-chaired by Gov. Schwarzenegger and Mayor Villaraigosa, incorporates ongoing programs and events to provide tangible solutions to the region's affordable housing crisis.
In a special appearance by Grammy award-winner Ricky Martin at the program, he said, “I am honored to continue my involvement with Habitat for Humanity by being here with you tonight. This is the start of an incredible campaign that will touch the lives of 250 families in the next three years, as well as the lives of all of us who are privileged enough to be a part of it. I have already been blessed with the opportunity of meeting and working alongside Habitat for Humanity families as we built dreams together… many more dreams will come true this week as the result of the hard work of everyone here tonight.”
At the kick-off, Habitat for Humanity International’s CEO Jonathan Reckford thanked the organization's many partners for their support and tireless efforts to make Habitat’s Jimmy Carter Work Project successful and provide low-income families with safe, affordable housing.
“It is an honor to bring Habitat for Humanity’s highest-profile annual event to Los Angeles. It will not only help families in this community, but also send the message that safe, affordable housing is an important part of a family’s security and well-being, no matter what location they call home,” said Reckford. “We have been a leader in developing affordable housing and taking the initiative to ensure our homes are both affordable and sustainable, and we are proud to have taken steps to build affordable housing with cost-savings and ease of upkeep for families.”
Erin Rank, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles’ President and CEO, brought the area’s need for affordable housing into sharp focus in discussing the reasons for the organization's three-year “Building a Greater Los Angeles” campaign.
“Today, the median income of renter households in Los Angeles is about $35,500, while the median price for a home is approximately $549,000, making decent, affordable housing all but out of reach for hard working people of modest means,” said Rank. “Additionally, less than three percent of new units built in Los Angeles County are considered affordable housing. These are statistics we want to change, and we hope to unify Los Angeles residents to actively engage in a solution to the affordable housing crisis in this area through the Jimmy Carter Work Project and 'Building a Greater Los Angeles' campaign.”
The campaign has already implemented multiple programs that target people from all walks of life to become proactive on this issue. Specifics of the campaign include the “A Brush with Kindness” program, which will rehabilitate homes for low-income families (www.habitatla.org/abwk ); “Nickels for Nails,” which engages young people in community service projects to fund and build a home that is 100 percent sponsored by youth (www.habitatla.org/youth_programs ); sponsorship of a recent housing symposium that brought together community leaders to address Los Angeles-area housing issues; and additional outreach, education, volunteer and fundraising initiatives.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles is among a growing number of Habitat for Humanity affiliates incorporating building elements that improve the affordability and sustainability for home owners and the communities in which they live.
Sponsors making the Jimmy Carter Work Project 2007 possible include:
The Ahmanson Foundation
Arden Realty, Inc.
Bank of America
Beach Cities Friends & Capital Bentley Prince Street Carpet
City of Burbank
City of Los Angeles
City of Lynwood
City of Santa Monica
Clear Channel Outdoor
Contessa Premium Foods
Creative Artists Agency
The Dow Chemical Company
Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco
Folgers Gourmet Selections
The Home Depot
Jon Bon Jovi/Philadelphia Soul
Nissan North America
ORCO Construction Supply
The PMI Group, Inc.
The Port of Los Angeles
Sennott Family Foundation
Simpson Strong Tie
Squid & Squash Foundation
State of California
Thomas A. Middeler & Kristine Middeler Kinsey
Togawa Smith Martin
Union Bank of California
United Talent Agency
The Walt Disney Company
The Werner Co.
William Morris Agency
About the Jimmy Carter Work Project
Habitat for Humanity's Jimmy Carter Work Project is an annual, internationally recognized event in which the former U.S. president and his wife join Habitat volunteers to build simple, decent and affordable homes in partnership with people in need of both housing and hope. President Carter has been personally involved in the construction of Habitat homes around the world that provide shelter to more than 10,000 people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org/how/carter  or www.jcwpla.org .
About Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles strives to eliminate poverty housing through advocacy, education and partnership with families in need to build simple, decent affordable housing. Since 1990, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles has built more than 200 homes, transforming the lives of hundreds of individuals. In the spring of 2007, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles kicked off its three-year "Building a Greater Los Angeles" campaign to build or rehabilitate 250 homes in Los Angeles County. For more information, visit www.habitatla.org .
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 250,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org .