Habitat for Humanity Pushed as Policy Model

Article excerpt

Influenced by the Habitat for Humanity philosophy of empowering the poor to improve their own lives, former President Jimmy Carter revealed April 5 that he had recently discussed low-income housing with the Clinton administration and urged it to incorporate Habitat's ideals into public policy. Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, along with actress Jane Fonda, were among 450 volunteers from at least 44 U.S. states and eight countries who came to Americus, Georgia, where Habitat is headquartered, to build 20 homes for dedication on Good Friday.

Habitat volunteers work along with prospective owners to refurbish or build affordable housing in their communities. The 20th home constructed in Americus marked a milestone for Habitat--the 20,000th house constructed by its workers. Cofounded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller as an ecumenical Christian organization, Habitat is supported largely by church volunteers and donations from congregations. It took 15 years to build its first 10,000 homes. The next 10,000 went up in two years. By the year 2000 the organization hopes to be building 20,000 homes a year. Currently it builds an average of 23 homes per day in more than 900 cities in 40 countries.

Carter said he is confident that Clinton will reverse trends of the 1980s, when federal support for low-income housing was drastically slashed. The former president noted that his proposed plan grew out of his experience with Habitat--which, in addition to involving prospective owners as workers, offers them no-interest loans--and that he had been assured of Clinton's support for a model based on Habitat's program. …