PATERSON, N.J. and MAAI MAHIU, Kenya – Habitat for Humanity will mark a major milestone when it dedicates its 500,000th house in Maai Mahiu, Kenya, and begins construction on its 500,001st house in Paterson, N.J. Volunteers and homeowners are joining Habitat for Humanity Kenya and Paterson Habitat for Humanity in celebrating the milestones as part of events being held worldwide to mark World Habitat Day.
The milestone houses represent the steady increase in Habitat for Humanity's scale and scope to help more families in need of decent, affordable housing. In 2005, Habitat celebrated its 200,000th house. Six years later, Habitat for Humanity is celebrating serving more than 500,000 families through new, rehabilitated, repaired and improved homes.
"It is a testament to the power of what God can do when people come together to build homes, communities and hope," said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. "I am so grateful to all of the volunteers, donors and advocates who share our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live."
In Kenya, Habitat for Humanity is completing the 500,000th house in partnership with Leah Wairimu Ngugi and her grandchildren. Ms. Ngugi's family is one of many who were displaced after post-election violence erupted in the country in late 2007. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes, which were looted and burned. These internally displaced persons (IDP) lost all of their belongings and are living in small tents, often in deplorable conditions. Habitat Kenya has worked with IDP in Maai Mahiu for more than two years and has helped resettle 235 families into durable, decent, three-room houses in new communities.
"Habitat for Humanity Kenya is honored to mark this major milestone with Habitat for Humanity," said Simon Nyabwengi, country director of Habitat for Humanity Kenya. "While we've made great progress in Kenya providing shelter to low-income families and internally displaced persons, there is still much work to be done here and around the world. We will continue building upon the momentum that these houses helped create until every family has access to decent, affordable shelter."
Volunteers are raising the walls on Habitat's 500,001st house in Paterson, N.J. as well. The house is being built for Felecia Allen, a single mother of three, in one of the inner-city neighborhoods where Paterson Habitat for Humanity has been continuously building since 1984. Steve Thomas, former host of the Public Broadcasting Service's home renovation series This Old House and Planet Green's Renovation Nation, is joining Paterson Habitat for Humanity at the celebration.
"This is a wonderful milestone for Habitat for Humanity and Paterson Habitat. This house is proof that despite obstacles, like the recent flooding in Paterson, we can make a difference in the community one house at a time," said Barbara Dunn, executive director of Paterson Habitat for Humanity. "It is especially meaningful for us to have the opportunity to join in this celebration with our sister affiliate in Kenya."
Construction of the house in Kenya is being made possible by a contribution from Paterson Habitat for Humanity as part of Habitat for Humanity's annual tithe program to help build houses around the world. Paterson Habitat for Humanity has maintained a global partnership with Habitat for Humanity Kenya since 1984, when Paterson Habitat dedicated its first yearly tithe to Kenya's building efforts. To date, Paterson Habitat for Humanity has contributed more than $540,000 to Habitat Kenya, which helped provide affordable shelter in partnership with more than 450 families.
Habitat for Humanity would like to thank the thousands of volunteers, partner families and the following sponsors for their help in achieving this major milestone: American Red Cross, Bank of America, Catholic Relief Services, Citi Foundation, Delta Airlines, Inc., GAF Materials Corporation, Hunter Douglas, Kohler Company, Lowe's Companies Inc., Lucile B. and Thomas M. Patrick, Nissan North America Inc., PCL Family of Companies, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Schneider Electric, Seedlings Foundation, Stanard Family Foundation, State Farm Mutual Insurance Company, Subaru of America Inc., The ArcelorMittal Foundation, The Dow Chemical Company, The Home Depot Foundation, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Tile Partners & Mountain Re-Source Center, United States Government, Valspar, Wells Fargo, Whirlpool Corporation, and Yale Locks and countless others.
Paterson Habitat for Humanity would also like to thank Atlantic Stewardship Bank, Clifton Savings Bank, Columbia Bank, F3 Engineering, Glen Rock Stair Corporation, Goldman Sachs Community TeamWorks, Hunter Douglas, Kuiken Brothers, Lowe's Companies Inc., PSEG Corporation, Unilever USA, Valley National Bank and Wayne Tile Company.
Habitat for Humanity will engage in a month-long observance of the need for safe, decent and affordable shelter beginning on World Habitat Day, Oct. 3. World Habitat Day begins a series of activities implemented by Habitat's global network in more than 40 countries around the world, drawing attention to the importance of shelter in post-disaster settings. World Habitat Day events conclude in Haiti with Habitat's flagship event and the 2011 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project.
To help celebrate our first 500,000 homes, Habitat for Humanity is asking volunteers and supporters to post their favorite Habitat photos using a new interactive map application that can be found at http://app.habitat.org/habitatmap.
For more information, to donate or to volunteer, visit www.habitat.org.