ATLANTA and BILOXI, Miss. (Jan. 25, 2008) – For the 25th year, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, will call attention to both the need for affordable housing and Habitat for Humanity’s work to help low-income families realize the goal of homeownership.
“While great strides have been made in the recovery efforts since hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the work is far from over,” said President Carter. “Rosalynn and I are pleased to be returning to the Gulf Coast to work with Habitat for Humanity. Along with the thousands of wonderful volunteers, Rosalynn and I look forward to creating not only new houses, but new awareness about the dire need for affordable housing in the Gulf.”
Biloxi and Pascagoula, Miss., still recovering from the devastating 2005 hurricane season, will serve as host cities for the build. Throughout the five-day event, May 11-16, thousands of volunteers will help construct and rehabilitate 60 houses and frame up to 48 more in the two cities. As part of the project, houses also will be built and repaired by volunteers in Gulf Coast communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama.
“As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Habitat for Humanity’s Carter Work Project, we’ll continue to focus on the long-term recovery efforts throughout the Gulf Coast region,” said Habitat for Humanity Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Reckford. “With the help of President and Mrs. Carter—along with the thousands of devoted volunteers who will join them—we’ll not only help further rebuild these communities by providing simple, decent, affordable housing, but we’ll also help restore hope and stability in the lives of families so severely impacted by the hurricanes.”
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed or damaged more than half-a-million houses along the Gulf Coast. According to a 2007 RAND Corporation study, 60 percent of all houses in Harrison County, Miss., which includes Biloxi, were damaged. More than 12,000 FEMA trailers are still in use today throughout Southern Mississippi.
In 2008, the annual, week-long event was renamed the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project to recognize the former first lady’s years of dedicated service to help raise awareness and provide simple, decent and affordable housing in partnership with families in need.
“It is an honor to host the Carter Project,” said Chris Monforton, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “Habitat has done such great work here on the Gulf Coast, but this event is an important reminder that many people in this region are still living with the hurricane’s effects two years later. By raising awareness about the need for affordable housing and rebuilding the Gulf Coast, we are one step closer to finding a solution.”
To date, Habitat for Humanity’s Gulf Coast Recovery program has completed or begun construction on more than 1,300 houses. In addition to building homes, Habitat also is working to serve as a catalyst, bringing together organizations to address low-income housing and recovery on a scale that Habitat alone would not be able to accomplish. Habitat has also forged many other ongoing partnerships and collaborations with community and faith groups and long-term recovery committees in the region. Habitat has partnered with Church World Service to raise funds to repair homes for low-income families and with The Salvation Army to increase building capacity, volunteer accommodations and affordability of homes along the Gulf Coast. Lutheran Social Services and other Katrina Aid Today consortium members are engaged in assisting families in finding appropriate housing solutions, including Habitat homes.
Volunteers can sign up to help build in a Gulf Coast community and donations can be made online at www.habitat.org .
25 Years of Building with the Carters
Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, have been helping Habitat for Humanity shine the spotlight on the need for affordable housing since 1984. That year, the Carters led a small team of Habitat volunteers to New York City to help renovate a six-story apartment building with 19 families in need of decent, affordable shelter. A quarter of a century later, that modest effort has grown into an internationally recognized annual event that has taken place in communities around the world.
About Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast (HFHMGC) serves Harrison, Jackson and Stone counties. Since Katrina, HFHMGC has completed and started construction on 170 homes. HFHMGC believes every family deserves a place they can call home and, as such, they are committed to providing the Mississippi Gulf Coast with clean, decent, affordable and safe homes. While eradication of poverty housing is a challenge in all locations, it is particularly challenging in light of Hurricane Katrina. For more information on HFHMGC and how to volunteer or donate, go to www.hfhmgc.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 .