Los Angeles to Host Annual Habitat Project

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has announced Los Angeles as the host city for Habitat for Humanity's annual Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP), dedicated to the building and repairing of hundreds of homes.

"It is an honor to host Habitat for Humanity's highest-profile annual event, which will not only help families in our communities, but also send the message that safe and affordable housing is an important part of a families' security and well-being," said Erin Rank, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles' president and CEO in a recent statement.

During the five-day event, thousands of volunteers will build and repair 100 homes in Los Angeles. In addition, Habitat for Humanity's Greater Los Angeles affiliate announced the kick-off of its "Building a Greater Los Angeles" campaign, a three-year commitment to build an additional 150 homes. The campaign will include ongoing programs and events that actively address the region's affordable-housing crisis.

"The first step to solving the affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles, and for that matter throughout the world, is to shine a spotlight on the problem and implore all Americans to confront the issue," said Carter at a press conference last month.

Volunteers participating in the weeklong event will come from across the country and around the world. Celebrities and elected officials are also expected to take part in the build – officially slated to take place Oct. 28 – Nov. 2, 2007. Initial preparation work for the build will start immediately.

Carter - who has been building homes with Habitat for Humanity together with his wife Rosalynn since 1984 – was joined at the Mar. 31 press conference by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa.

"Los Angeles is faced with a housing crisis that leaves many of our residents unable to reach the American Dream of homeownership," said Villaraigosa in a press release. "I am proud to be working with President Carter to roll up our sleeves and face this challenge together."

The average family that pays rent makes about $35,000 a year, while the price of homes in Los Angeles in the last four years has more than doubled. The average price of a home is marked at $535,000 which Habitat's Rank contended, makes decent, affordable housing all but out of reach for working class individuals of modest means.

Less than three percent of new units built in Los Angeles County are considered affordable housing, Rank added.

"These statistics we want to change, and between the JCWP and the Building a Greater Los Angeles' campaign, we hope to unify Angelenos to actively engage in a solution to the affordable housing crisis in this area," he concluded.