Habitat for Humanity Reaches Milestone of 200,000 Homes

On the morning of March 17, officers and representatives from Habitat for Humanity, a ministry committed to eliminating poverty housing, gathered with the mayors of Knoxville and Knox County to celebrate Habitat for Humanity’s 200,000th home.

According to Habitat News, the home, which will be in the Five Points area of Knoxville, will be built in August. It will be completed in eight days with a dedication – a presentation of the key and a Bible – and move-in on the ninth day. Completion and dedication of another home will take place 24 minutes later in Sri Lanka, which was hit hard by the tsunami. (Habitat completes a home somewhere in the world every 24 minutes, and Sri Lanka is 12 hours ahead of local time).
To mark this occasion, a delegation from Sri Lanka will take part of the 200,000th dedication in Knoxville and a delegation from Knoxville will take part in the 200,001st dedication in Sri Lanka.

In addition to the press conference and groundbreaking in Knoxville, Habitat for Humanity will reveal its new logo that will represent the ministry’s work throughout the world beginning in May of this year.

“Today begins a celebration of another significant milestone in a movement that began in 1976 in the fertile fields of South Georgia,” said Paul Leonard, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. “With this house, another family plants roots deep into homeownership, sowing the seeds for a better life.

“With homeownership, with having the security of a safe and decent shelter, studies demonstrate that children perform better in schools, people get more involved in community activities and events, adults pursue greater education,” Leonard said. “A house is walls and floors and a roof, but the people, this family – Koffi Kouassi and Tonya Harper – will make it a home, their home.”

Leonard will gather with Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, staff and board members from Knoxville Habitat for Humanity and others for the groundbreaking. Representatives from Habitat’s More than Houses donors are also planning to participate.

Habitat’s More than Houses is a five-year effort to bring Habitat to 100 countries and to raise $500 million to build 100,000 homes. Last year, Habitat reached the 100-country mark and the Knoxville home marks the successful close of the building phase of the campaign.

“It took 24 years for Habitat to build its first 100,000 houses,” said Leonard. “But with the generosity of our More Than Houses partners and the thousands of volunteers who have helped shoulder this load, the second 100,000 was completed in just five years.

“While we celebrate this accomplishment, our work is not done,” said Leonard. “We need to continue to look forward and work to build with more families, which is why immediately after we dedicate this house in August, we will dedicate the 200,001st house in Sri Lanka, beginning our march to the next milestone and fulfillment of our mission – to erase poverty housing from the planet.”

“This milestone celebrates the accomplishments of Habitat for Humanity, its extensive network of volunteers and local government working together to build homes families can afford,” said Haslam. “Owning your own home is the American dream and homeownership is essential for building stronger and safer neighborhoods in our city. Thanks to Habitat that dream is coming true.”

Kouassi and Harper will be the homeowners for the 200,000th house. Kouassi is a native of the Ivory Coast. They are a blended family with children, Kenny Harper, 20, Folasada Harper, 18, Jeminata Harper, 14, Koffi Harper, 9, N’Dah and Ayah Harper, eight-year-old twins. Kouassi is a cook, and Tonya is an assistant manager at a Goodwill store.

“Habitat for Humanity is one of the most committed and generous civic groups in our community and makes a profound difference in the lives of the people it serves,” said Ragsdale. “I am ecstatic that the Harper/Kouassi family from our community is the recipient of the 200,000th house built by the organization.
“We are making a considerable effort to improve the quality of life for our citizens and move toward becoming a great American community. Habitat for Humanity is helping to make this vision a reality. Thank you, Habitat, and congratulations to you and the Harper/Kouassi family.”

“Being selected as the site of this monumental build is truly an honor and will be something we as an affiliate, and as a community, will never forget,” said Kelle Shultz, executive director of Knoxville Habitat for Humanity. “We are so proud of the work this ministry does and the families it serves. This build proves the mission to eliminate poverty housing transcends borders, languages and cultures. The power of people all over the world is inspiring and a constant reminder that anything is possible.”