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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – July 21, 2003: Habitat for Humanity - 2003-07-20

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The United Nations estimates that more than one-thousand-million people live in poor housing conditions. And that estimate is just for cities. In developing nations, that is about one out of four families.

Habitat for Humanity is a group that is working to help change the situation. Millard and Linda Fuller, two Christian religious aid workers, started this organization in nineteen-seventy-six. Habitat for Humanity says it has built or improved more than one-hundred-fifty-thousand homes in eighty-seven countries.

People give their time and skills to build homes. The group also accepts gifts of money and materials. Habitat for Humanity builds or improves homes for specially chosen “partner” families. Each partner family not only pays for its home, but also has to help build it.

Habitat for Humanity does not make a profit when it sells a new home to a partner family. It says all monthly payments from the homeowner are used to finance other projects. Homes are also paid for with no-interest loans that can last from seven to thirty years.

Habitat for Humanity is based in the southern American state of Georgia. Among its best known supporters are a famous local couple: former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn. The group also has affiliate offices around the world. These offices are run by local groups. Habitat says there are more than two-thousand offices in eighty-seven countries and all fifty states.

Each affiliate plans and organizes the building of Habitat homes in their community. They also raise money for projects and choose partner families. Affiliate offices in the United States give ten percent of their budgets to headquarters. This money is used to pay for products in other countries. In two-thousand-one, Habitat for Humanity says, its affiliates gave more then nine-million dollars to support the international work.

Families that wish to become partners go to their nearest affiliate and are chosen based on their level of need. Officials also consider a family’s willingness to help and its ability to repay a home loan. Habitat for Humanity says race and religion are not considered when choosing a partner family.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.