India: Habitat for Humanity's 200,000th house: 'Much to celebrate, more to build'

News and Press Release
Originally published
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (July 29, 2005) -- As Habitat for Humanity International raises walls on its 200,000th house in Knoxville, Tenn., and 200,001st house, in Kanyakumari, India, the global nonprofit builder's chief executive officer, Paul Leonard, noted, "We have much to celebrate, but we have more to build."
The wall raisings in Knoxville and India on Aug. 6, and home dedications, on Aug. 15, "mark another milestone in the journey to Habitat's goal of ending poverty housing as a humanitarian issue, making sure that everyone everywhere has a safe and decent place to lay down their heads at night," said Leonard.

Amazingly, while it took Habitat for Humanity 24 years to build 100,000 homes, it has taken just five years to build the second 100,000 houses, Leonard noted. Every 24 minutes, Habitat for Humanity is giving a family in need the key to their new home somewhere in the world. The celebration also marks another milestone: the millionth person housed in a Habitat home.

"For now we celebrate, 100,000 more houses, 100,000 more families, and 10 times that the number of lives changed by their experience with Habitat," said Leonard. "However, we must always think in context with the global problem and how our future success depends not only on what we can accomplish alone, but what we must accomplish with the help of others."

The event also achieves one more goal of Habitat's More Than Houses campaign, a five-year effort to raise an additional $500 million by the end of 2005 to build the additional 100,000 homes, and to push Habitat into 100 countries. Habitat met the 100-country goal in June 2004, achieves the second 100,000th home with the Knoxville build and will meet the $500 million goal by the end of calendar year 2005.

Partners helping to make the milestone celebration possible are Whirlpool, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Lowe's, the DIY Network and Citigroup.

"We are proud to be a part of Habitat's celebration of housing one million people worldwide," said Ted Dosch, corporate vice president and controller of Whirlpool. "In 2000, Whirlpool joined the More than Houses Campaign and today remains Habitat's largest supporter of this campaign. To be a part of the last 100,000 Habitat homes has been inspirational. Habitat has become a part of our DNA."

"Thrivent Financial is proud to join with other companies in underwriting this historic house build," said Bruce Nicholson, president and CEO, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. "Decent, affordable housing is the foundation of economic security for most people, and Habitat's work has gone far in building this foundation for one million people worldwide."

Robyn Ulrich, senior vice president of marketing for DIY, said, "It's an honor that the 200,000 home will be built in Knoxville, which is home to DIY Network and our owner, Scripps Networks. We've pursued a national public affairs partnership with Habitat for several years, and each year we're more amazed at the impact the organization makes on communities around the globe."

Koffi Kouassi and Tonya Harper are the Knoxville partner family, with their children, Kenny Harper, 20, Folasada Harper, 18, Jeminata Harper, 14, Koffi Harper, 9, N'Dah and Ayah Harper, eight-year-old twins. Kouassi, a native of the Ivory Coast, is a cook. Tonya is an assistant manager at a retail store. In India, Michel, his wife, Vivatha, and their five children will live in the 200,001st house. Michel is a fisherman.

The 200,000th house will be built in eight days, and a team from India will travel to Knoxville to help build the 200,000th house and a group from Knoxville will travel to India to be a part of the 200,001st build.

The 200,001st house will be built in Kanyakumari, at the southernmost tip of the Indian peninsula. There was extensive damage from the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami, but fortunately, no lives were lost there. Habitat for Humanity has repaired 105 houses and is replacing structural components on 28 more.

"As we look back over nearly 30 years of Habitat history, we have much to be proud of," said Leonard. "But there are more families out there who need the help Habitat provides and many partners, volunteers and others who stand ready to be a part of our progress. We have much to celebrate, but we have much more to build."

About Knoxville Habitat for Humanity

Knoxville Habitat for Humanity is an independent, nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry that partners with people of all beliefs. Knoxville Habitat for Humanity has been an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International since 1985 and has built 265 homes.

About Habitat for Humanity International

Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing.

About Habitat for Humanity India

With an annual per capita income of US$300, most Indian families are unable to afford a decent home. The first Habitat for Humanity affiliate in India was founded in Khammam, Andhra Pradesh, in 1983. Since then, additional affiliates have been formed and more than 1,000 houses have been built.