Archive for the ‘Affordable Housing’ Category

I'm advocating for a more sustainable National Service program that does not rely heavily on Congressional appropriations each year.

Today is a special, special day folks…it’s WORLD HABITAT DAY! WHD is an international holiday designated by the United Nations as the first Monday of October. The purpose of World Habitat Day is to bring attention to issues of shelter and housing worldwide.

Let’s face it, we look outside our picture window and see immaculately groomed lawns, stone facades, and children playing wiffle ball safely in the culdesac. Lovely, right? Well, most of the world does NOT see this pleasant image when they look out their window. Nearly a BILLION people see something along these lines…

With a population of 1 million, Kibera is one of the largest slums in Africa.

According to UN Habitat, one out of every three city dwellers – nearly a billion people – lives in a slum. Slums lack adequate services that we all take for granted and meerly overlook (Slum indicators include: lack of water, lack of sanitation, overcrowding, non-durable structures and insecure tenure.)

A child stands in front of a place of business in Kenya's Kibera slum.

Habitat for Humanity hopes that by raising awareness and advocating for universal decent housing we can dismantle and alter the systems that allow for poverty housing and make an affordable, decent place to live a reality for all.

In addition to building homes in partnership with people in need, Habitat advocates to address the causes of poverty housing. Advocacy activities always include a specific request, such as asking supporters to sign a petition or sending a message to an elected official.

As I wrote last time, Habitat International is putting together a worldwide photo petition to send to Congress. Austin Habitat for Humanity has made huge efforts to contribute to this photo advocacy campaign by asking their volunteers, staff, board members, and partner families, “What will YOU build?”

Austin Habitat has collected nearly 150 pictures thus far to contribute to Habitat International’s photo wall . Check them out on our flickr group!

If you want to get involved, upload your own photo to the wall and take action now by emailing your Congressmen in support of safe and decent housing.

p.s. Watch this great vid about Austin Habitat…


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What will you build??

My favorite response thus far…“WALKABLE STREETS.” There are so many good answers to this question, and I am very excited to find out what local Austinites have to say.  Tomorrow I will be taking Habitat for Humanity International’s World Habitat Day photo campaign to five on-going construction sites of Austin Habitat for Humanity.

The World Habitat Day Photo Wall is a global petition to demonstrate the support of adequate housing for all as a legislative priority. This year, HFHI hopes to collect more than 3,000 photos from Habitat supporters all around the world.

As a new member of the Volunteer Services department of Austin Habitat, I am syked to have the opportunity to work with so many dedicated volunteers and to spread the message of World Habitat Day over the next few weeks. So…

What is World Habitat Day?

  • What? World Habitat Day is a day for grassroots action, a time for people to unite against substandard housing worldwide.
  • When? Monday, Oct. 4, 2010. The first Monday in October was designated World Habitat Day by the U.N. General Assembly in 1985.
  • Why? Families face a daily struggle for mere survival. Substandard dwellings leave people vulnerable to disease, crime, malnutrition and natural disasters.World Habitat Day calls attention to the tremendous need for decent, affordable housing all over the world. It recognizes the basic need all human beings have for adequate shelter.
  • How many? One billion people, one-sixth of the world’s population, live in deplorable conditions in dilapidated slums and shantytowns. By 2030, that number is expected to rise to 2 billion.
  • Who? You. World Habitat Day reminds people everywhere of our collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.

(This is a nice little excerpt from the official World Habitat Day brochure which has loads of great information if you want to know more about this U.N. holiday)

Want to do your part?? Take action now! Also, whip out that new digital cam and submit your own photo today!

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One of the tent cities that has sprung up around Port-au Prince, Haiti after the earthquake.

So everyone knows the deal in Haiti.  Devastation.  Destruction.  DISASTER.  Habitat for Humanity International is responding to this disaster and addressing shelter solutions, including the delivery of shelter kits.  These kits are intended to help families construct or repair temporary shelters and provide a safer and cleaner environment to live in as we begin to rebuild Haiti.  

If you are in the Atlanta area, and would like to DIRECTLY help Haiti, we need your help!  This week, we are assembling over 8,000 shelter kits to be shipped to Port-au Prince, Haiti.  Whirlpool is graciously assisting us by providing enormous warehouse space for the preparation and assembly of the kits.  

We’ll be assembling them Monday through Thursday of this week and really need additional volunteers for Monday and Thursday.  You can sign-up for half day or full day shifts between 9 am and 5 pm.  Sign-up online with Hands On Atlanta. 

If you aren’t in the area, but would still like to help, please pass this information along to anyone you know near Atlanta that may want to volunteer.  Also, check out our website for other ways you can help.

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"It all starts at home" photo petition sent to Obama

Isn’t that awesome!?  Remember the “It all starts at home” photo petition I blogged about?  Well, Habitat took the thousands of photos people submitted (including one from me, my sis, AND Kenny Roger!) and put together this sweet collage that makes up the World Habitat Day logo. 


Now, as you may or may not know, this Monday (Oct. 5) is WORLD HABITAT DAY.  It is a U.N holiday that occurs the first monday of October every year.  The purpose is to globally unite and declare that the lack of decent, affordable housing is unacceptable.  Raising awareness and advocating for change are the first steps toward transforming systems that perpetuate poverty housing.


I’d like to ask a small favor…if you believe in the basic human right to safe and decent shelter, then please take a moment to send this photo petition to congress and to Ask Congress to Make Housing A Priority on World Habitat Day!  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it makes a world of difference…literally.



If you’d like to educate yourself about the problem, check out these statistics and research about poverty housing in the U.S. and around the world.  It’s easiest to point to the slum conditions abroad to demonstrate the extreme (and terrible) conditions people are living in.   I would highly recommend this documentary, Slum Survivors, which talks about the largest slum in the world (Kibera, located in Kenya).  It provides great insight as to what it’s like to live in a slum and what substandard housing actually means. [Click the link…you can watch the whole thing online!]


Kibera - Kenya


To start making a difference, visit AdvocateWithHabitat.org to voice your support for an end to poverty housing both in our nation and abroad.


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Habitat Photo Petition: "It all starts at Home"

Habitat Photo Petition: "It all starts at Home"

Join Habitat for Humanity’s photo petition!  Habitat needs our help to remind President Obama that human health and well-being starts with having a simple, decent place to live.  Join me in reminding the U.S. government that “It all starts at home.”


Follow the Habitat photo petition instructions to post your photo to Flickr.  If you submit your photo by September 25, 2009, Habitat will deliver your photo to the White House in honor of World Habitat Day 2009.


I was reading the latest issue of Habitat World, and I came across this article I really liked…so I thought I’d share.  It’s the winner of a national essay contest, and I think it gets at the heart of what the affordable housing movement is all about:


The CWP Winning Essay by Kelli Akremi


“I couldn’t do my homework last night. It got dark too fast.”

Sighing softly to myself, I turned to face Edwin. In my many years of teaching fourth grade, I’ve heard a countless number of excuses as to why homework is missing or incomplete. I just did not expect to hear this from Edwin, a bright, gifted fourth grader.

“Why didn’t you just turn on a light?” I asked.

“I couldn’t,” Edwin whispered, his voice nearly inaudible as he fought back tears. “The company turned off the electricity last week.”

As the rest of the class completed a reading assignment, I listened to Edwin’s heartbreaking story. Both of his parents worked long hours at their jobs, but they couldn’t afford to buy a house and barely managed to pay the rent on their townhouse each month. Faced with a mounting pile of bills in the mailbox, Edwin’s parents were recently forced to make difficult choices. Shelter or electricity? Fix the broken lock on the front door or buy school supplies for the children? Purchase food or gasoline for the car? Unlike the math tests I administer, there are no correct answers to such questions. Choices had to be made, though. Ultimately Edwin’s family had started to eat cold dinners by candlelight and, for safety, to sleep crammed together in the one tiny bedroom that had a lock on the door.

It was my turn to fight back tears.

“It’s OK,” comforted Edwin. “We have a place to sleep and my parents love me. I’m really sorry that I didn’t do my homework, though.”

Without realizing it, Edwin gave me a homework assignment of my own to work on that night. What is a “home”? In his young eyes, a home is a place to sleep and a place where children feel the comfort of their parents’ love for them. In my eyes, a home is a place with so much more. Doors with locks to provide feelings of safety and security. Piping hot meals eaten in well-lit rooms. Tables covered with piles of artwork (and devoid of overwhelming mortgage notices). Family areas filled with laughter and memories next to nooks for individual times of solitude. Children at desks completing homework under the glow of a bright lamp.

I volunteer with Habitat for Humanity because of students like Edwin. No child should have to worry about doing homework in the dark. All children deserve a place to learn and discover their potential. And this begins with a decent home, I learned from my young student Edwin.

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