On Oct. 4, 2010, in recognition of World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity will raise awareness of the need for improved shelter and highlight Habitat’s priorities: the worldwide connection between human health and housing, and, in the United States, neighborhood revitalization. These themes echo the United Nations’ chosen theme for 2010 for events in the host city of Shanghai, China and the rest of the world: “Better City, Better Life.”
Every week, more than a million people are born in, or move to, cities in the developing world. As a result, the urban population of developing countries will double from 2 billion to 4 billion in the next 30 years. (Kissick, et al: 2006)
By the year 2030, an additional 3 billion people, about 40 percent of the world’s population, will need access to housing. This translates into a demand for 96,150 new affordable units every day and 4,000 every hour. (UN-HABITAT: 2005)
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.
Antoinette Kumwenda was able to obtain a Habitat home improvement loan that provided iron sheets for her roof.
Habitat for Humanity World Habitat Day events
Around the world, many Habitat for Humanity local offices have organized World Habitat Day events. Habitat for Humanity’s 27th annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project is a World Habitat Day event this year. It will be held Oct. 4 – 8 in six cities in the United States. Held in a different location each year, Habitat’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project is an annual, internationally-recognized week of building that brings attention to the need for simple, decent and affordable housing. This year, the Carters will work alongside volunteers in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore and Annapolis, Md.; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; and Birmingham, Ala. to build, rehabilitate and improve 86 homes.
Health and housing
Habitat’s World Habitat Day efforts will focus on the link between housing and health, for example, through the release of the 2011 Shelter Report, which focuses on the need for more research on the connections between healthy homes and healthy families around the world.
In the United States, Habitat for Humanity will also focus on neighborhood revitalization. In a broad effort to help communities fulfill their aspirations, Habitat will expand its housing programs to include repairing more homes, rehabbing more vacant homes, and improving the energy-efficiency of homes. Habitat will work with partners to provide holistic improvements in a community.
What can you do for World Habitat Day?
Ask leaders in Washington: What will you build?
In recognition of World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity is collecting photos to display in a Photo Wall. Submit your photo to remind decision makers in Washington, D.C., to make housing a priority.
Getting involved is easy. All supporters need to do is:
1. Write “What will you build?” on a piece of paper.
2. Take a photo holding the message.
3. Upload the picture to Habitat’s Photo Wall.
4. Share the photo with friends and family.
To participate or learn more, click here. Questions can be sent to
firstname.lastname@example.org The most important thing you can do is take action! Below are three common ways that people take action in their community.
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, send a message to an elected official or take part in a rally.
World Habitat Day is a great way to raise funds for Habitat in your area. A fundraiser can help educate the public and generate publicity for nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
Organize a public awareness event for World Habitat Day 2010 that not only highlights the need for affordable housing in your own community, but also discusses the need for improved shelter for billions of people around the world.
Housing improves health
The number of low-income families who lack safe and affordable housing is related to the number of children who 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 heating and electrical equipment. (Sandel, et al: 1999)
Children younger than 5 living in Habitat for Humanity houses in Malawi showed a 44 percent reduction in malaria, respiratory or gastrointestinal diseases compared with children living in traditional houses.
Children in poor housing have increased risk of viral or bacterial infections and a greater chance of suffering mental health and behavioral problems. (Harker: 2006)
Housing deprivation leads to an average of 25 percent greater risk of disability or severe ill health across a person’s life span. Those who suffer housing deprivation as children are more likely to suffer ill health in adulthood, even if they live in non-deprived conditions later in life. (Marsh, et al.: 2000)
Housing has a positive impact on children
Children of homeowners are more likely to stay in school (by 7 to 9 percent), and daughters of homeowners are less likely to have children by age 18 (by 2 to 4 percent). (Green and White: 1996)
Owning a home leads to a higher-quality home environment, improved test scores in children (9 percent in math and 7 percent in reading), and reduced behavioral problems (by 3 percent). (Haurin, Parcel, and Haurin: 2002)
Children who live in poor housing have lower educational attainment and a greater likelihood of being impoverished and unemployed as adults. (Harker: 2006)
Housing strengthens communities
Homeowners are more likely to know their U.S. representative (by 10 percent) and school board head by name (by 9 percent), and are more likely to vote in local elections (by 15 percent) and work to solve local problems (by 6 percent). (DiPasquale and Glaeser: 1998)
Homeowners are more likely to be satisfied with their homes and neighborhoods, and are more likely to volunteer in civic and political activities. (Rohe, Van Zandt, and McCarthy: 2000)
Resident ownership is strongly related to better building security and quality, and to lower levels of crime. (Saegert and Winkel: 1998)