Dignitaries, celebrities and volunteers join effort to highlight affordable housing needs
BILOXI, Miss. (May 12, 2008) –Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, bring the 25th annual Habitat for Humanity Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project to the Gulf Coast, May 11 - 16. The week-long building event calls attention to the continuing housing need in the region, as well as Habitat for Humanity’s work to help low-income families realize the goal of homeownership.
The Carters welcomed thousands of volunteers, partner families and special guests to this year’s weeklong build event during opening ceremonies Sunday night. Lending their support at the kick-off event were musicians Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, former Romanian President Emil Constantinescu, HFHI Board Chair Ron Terwilliger, HFHI CEO Jonathan Reckford, former HFHI CEO Paul Leonard, Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast CEO Chris Monforton, actress Emily Bergl and musician Anna Wilson, who took the stage with The Mississippi Mass Choir to perform her Habitat-inspired anthem "A House, A Home."
“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, Gulfport and Pascagoula, Miss., cities that were devastated by and are still recovering from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, are the host sites for this year's silver anniversary build event. For 2008, the event was renamed the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project to recognize the former first lady’s years of dedicated service to raising awareness and providing simple, decent and affordable housing in partnership with families in need.
During the week, the Carters will join thousands of volunteers to help at build sites throughout the Gulf Coast, including Biloxi, Pascagoula and Bay St. Louis, Miss.; Mobile, Ala.; and New Orleans and Covington, La.
In total, more than 250 houses will be built or rehabilitated by the end of 2008 as part of the overall Carter Work Project. Participating Habitat affiliates in this year's event include:
• Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast
• New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity
• Habitat for Humanity in Mobile County
• Habitat for Humanity St. Tammany West
• Habitat for Humanity Bay-Waveland Area
• Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge
• Lafayette Habitat for Humanity
• Bayou Area Habitat for Humanity
• Habitat for Humanity Calcasieu Area
• East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity
• George County Habitat for Humanity
• Habitat for Humanity of Pearl River County
• Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity
• Habitat for Humanity Metro Jackson
• Lauderdale County Habitat for Humanity
• Habitat for Humanity of Jefferson County
• Houston Habitat for Humanity
• Washington Habitat for Humanity
“More than two years after the devastating hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, Habitat continues to focus on the long-term recovery efforts throughout the region,” said Habitat for Humanity Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Reckford. “As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Carter Project, we’ll not only help further rebuild these communities by providing simple, decent, affordable housing, but we’ll also build awareness about the very real need for affordable housing in the Gulf Coast and around the world. With the help of President and Mrs. Carter and the thousands of Habitat volunteers who so generously devote their time, labor and resources, we will continue restoring hope and stability to families affected by the hurricanes.”
To date, Habitat for Humanity’s Gulf Coast Recovery program has completed or begun construction on nearly 1,300 houses. In addition to building homes, Habitat is working to bring together organizations to address low-income housing and recovery efforts in the region on a scale that Habitat alone would not be able to accomplish. To aid in this undertaking, Habitat has forged ongoing partnerships and collaborations with community and faith groups and long-term recovery committees in the region. Specifically, Habitat has partnered with Church World Service to raise funds to repair homes for low-income families and with The Salvation Army to increase its building capacity, volunteer accommodations and affordability of homes along the Gulf. Lutheran Social Services and other Katrina Aid Today consortium members are also engaged to assist families in finding appropriate housing solutions, including Habitat homes.
Habitat for Humanity encourages volunteers to continue the rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast to help build homes in the local communities. Volunteers can sign up to participate 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 a 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. For more information, visit www.habitat.org/how/carter .
About Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Gulf Coast (HFHMGC)
After Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the need for affordable housing along the Mississippi Gulf Coast became acute. In January of 2007, Harrison County HFH and HFH of Jackson County merged organizations to form HFH of the Mississippi Gulf Coast serving Harrison, Jackson and Stone counties. Since the merge, over 190 homes have been completed or are under construction. To learn how you can help, visit 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 .