Saturday, September 19, 2009

World Habitat Day 2009

Few people know this about me, but growing up, my family was homeless at least five times that I remember. We lived in a camp trailer outside an uncle's house once; we lived in an abandoned, condemned house that my mom decided to squat in for a while; we lived in a camp trailer outside another uncle's mechanic shop once; we lived in another campter trailer at an HOA facility for two months; we lived in our car for a short period of time; and then, after I was married, my mom, step dad and three brothers and sisters were homeless again and I made them stay with me. I know what it is to be afraid to fall asleep at night. I know what it is to have nothing to call home. Nowhere to take a shower or cook a meal. I know how hard it can be to find somewhere to live. I get it. And, because I get it, I believe in the Habitat for Humanity cause.

Let's stand up on World Habitat Day and let it be known that affordable, adequate housing should be a priority everywhere—in our communities, in our towns, in our country, in our world.

This year on Oct. 5 in Washington, D.C. and around the world, please join Habitat for Humanity in support of this global observance as we come together and declare that the lack of decent, affordable housing is unacceptable.

U.S. Housing Facts

* About 95 million people, one third of the nation, have housing problems including a high-cost burden, overcrowding, poor quality shelter and homelessness. (National Low Income Housing Coalition: 2004)

* One in three American households spend more than 30 percent of income on housing, and one in seven spends more than 50 percent. (Joint Center for Housing Studies: 2006)

* The number of low-income families that lack safe and affordable housing is related to the number of children that suffer from asthma, viral infections, anemia, stunted growth and other health problems. About 21,000 children have stunted growth attributable to the lack of stable housing; 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 9 are hospitalized for asthma attacks each year because of cockroach infestation at home; and more than 180 children die each year in house fires attributable to faulty electrical heating and electrical equipment. (Sandel, et al: 1999)

What can you do?

ADVOCATE for decent housing for all by submitting a photo of yourself holding a sign that says “It all starts at home” and submit it to Habitat’s photo petition on Habitat’s goal is to collect a minimum of 500 photos to deliver to the White House. Submit your photo by Friday, September 25, 2009.

Today, 1 billion people live in slums, and that number is growing rapidly. The U.S. can be a leader in the fight to help reduce global poverty and improve the lives of people living in slums. Urge your legislators to support the Shelter, Land and Urban Assistance Act of 2009. Tell Congress to pass the SLUM Assistance Act!

EDUCATE your community with Habitat for Humanity’s World Habitat Day handbook to learn more about the importance of secure tenure and neighborhood revitalization. Get even more information about the issue of insecure tenure by reading Habitat’s Shelter Report: building a secure future through effective land policies.

Brainstorm ways to get more people involved. Learn from the successes of last year’s campaign, and come up with brand-new ways to celebrate and publicize the important work of Habitat for Humanity.

Take a virtual tour of the Capotillo informal settlement in the Dominican Republic and put yourself in the shoes of those who live in a broken community of violence, poverty and danger.

Link to Habitat for Humanity’s World Habitat Day 2009 resources page on your social media pages, personal web site or blog to spread the word and raise awareness.

DONATE to be a part of making the world a better place and support Habitat’s efforts. Donate online today!

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