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USA: Church World Service, Habitat for Humanity expand efforts to help additional families with post-hurricane house repairs

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NEW YORK and AMERICUS, GA -- Nearly one year after announcing a landmark partnership to repair the homes of low-income Gulf Coast families, Church World Service and Habitat for Humanity International are extending their work to repair 600 additional homes damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The announcement of an additional $1 million funding from Habitat granted to Church World Service comes as both agencies were recognized today for their partnership in rebuilding following the devastating storms.

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) today awarded both agencies its Award for Excellence in Long-Term Recovery Partnership during NVOAD's annual conference being held in Albuquerque, New Mexico (April 17-20).

"In the last year, our partnership with Habitat has helped hundreds of people resume normal lives by returning them to their homes," said Church World Service Executive Director and CEO the Rev. John L. McCullough. "We are honored by this award and proud that Habitat for Humanity valued our partnership by extending its grant program with us."

The initial $3 million partnership allowed long-term recovery groups along the Gulf Coast to apply for grants of up to $7,500 to help people of limited means repair their homes.

"Given the immense devastation the Gulf Coast hurricanes left in their wake, a lasting recovery requires effective collaboration by individuals and organizations working throughout the region. Habitat for Humanity is committed to that cooperative spirit, and we're proud to partner with Church World Service to enable local groups to meet the housing needs of their low-income neighbors," said Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford.

"We're grateful for this award, as it reaffirms the notion of partnership so critical to our relationship with Church World Service, to our mission and to our recovery work all along the Gulf Coast," said Reckford.

In this latest round of rebuilding grants, 200 projects will be selected with 50 homeowners eligible for a new, higher $10,000 maximum each. "We found from the first two rounds that there were plenty of cases where needs outmatched the $7,500 limit," McCullough said. "The higher threshold will allow Habitat and Church World Service to help those with greater needs."

Church World Service's third round of rebuilding grants will be distributed by the end of April. A key feature of the agency's disaster response is its focus on helping existing community groups establish independent, nonprofit organizations dedicated solely to filling unmet disaster-related, long-term recovery needs of vulnerable populations in their communities. These local organizations, with close ties and deep commitment to their communities, identify homes to be repaired or rebuilt under the Habitat-CWS partnership, and apply the grant monies directly to home repair costs.

In May, Habitat for Humanity's Operation Home Delivery program will begin construction on its 1,000th new house to help affected hurricane-affected families in the Gulf Coast region. With programs such as the partnership with Church World Service, Habitat serves as a catalyst that brings together organizations to address low-income housing and recovery on a scale that Habitat alone would not be able to accomplish.

About Church World Service

Church World Service is an international and domestic relief, development, and refugee assistance agency supported in part by 35 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican denominations in the United States. With more than 60 years of experience in humanitarian relief, Church World Service works with partners in some 80 countries to fight hunger and poverty. For more information, visit www.churchworldservice.org

About Habitat for Humanity International

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in Americus, Georgia, in 1976, Habitat has built more than 225,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than one million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.

Media Contacts:

Lesley Crosson, CWS/New York, 212-870-2676; lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin (24/7), 781-925-1526; jdragin@gis.net