Habitat for Humanity (Speech)

An estimated 5.1 million American households face worst-case housing needs, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Receiving little or no government housing assistance, these families are unable to find a decent place to live at a price they can afford to pay. They are also forced to pay more than half their income for housing, endure overcrowded conditions and live in houses with severe physical deficiencies, and that’s just in the U.S.; worldwide more than 2 billion people live in poverty housing. While the number of families in poverty is growing, the number of affordable rental units is shrinking, and most families who qualify for government housing assistance aren\'t receiving any aid. Working in partnership with low-income families to build decent homes they can afford to buy, Habitat for Humanity helps to break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness. By the end of 2005, more than 1 million people worldwide will live in decent, affordable Habitat for Humanity houses.
I’ve been researching HFH for about 2 months now because I am planning to join during the summer and I’ve realized that the need for decent, affordable housing is great and HFH helps fill that need. Today I’m going to tell you why HFH is needed, how HFH helps, why you should get involved and what you can do to help. First I’ll tell you why it’s needed.
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According to a report prepared for Congress in 2003 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 5.1 million American households face "worst-case housing needs." These families:
• are renters receiving no government assistance;
• make less than 50 percent of the area median income;
• pay more than 50 percent of their income for rent and utilities and/or live in housing with severe physical deficiencies;
• include some 3.6 million children, 1.6 million elderly adults and 1.3 million disabled adults.

Worldwide, the need is even greater. Some 2 billion people worldwide live in poverty housing. More than 1 billion live in urban slums, and that figure is expected to double by 2030. Many of these people earn less than US$2 per day.

Housing problems have far-reaching consequences. The high cost of housing leaves low-income families little money for other basic necessities like food, clothing or health care. Substandard housing can endanger the health and safety of its occupants, erode their hope and self-worth, and impair their children\'s ability to succeed in school.

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Affordable Housing Statistics
More than 30 million U.S. households face one or more of the following housing problems:
• Cost burdens: paying an excessively large percentage of income on housing costs. More than 13 million households pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing.
• Overcrowding: the number of people living in the house is greater than the total number of rooms in the house. About 6.1 million households live in overcrowded conditions.
• Physical inadequacy: severe physical deficiencies, such as having no hot water, no electricity, no toilet, or neither a bathtub nor a shower. One out of every seven poor families lives in severely physically inadequate housing.

Of the 30 million households with housing problems, 14.5 million qualify for government aid, yet only 4.1 million are actually receiving any.
In fact, most of the U.S. government\'s housing subsidies do not benefit the poor. For example, in 1995, homeowners earning more than $100,000 per year received a total of $28.9 billion in federal income tax deductions on mortgage interest payments. By comparison, the entire 1999 budget of HUD was only $25 billion.

For every 100 very low-income renters, only 76 affordable rental units are currently available. Between 1997 and 2001, the number of available units declined 13 percent; there were 1.8 million fewer units that very low-income renters could afford.
To afford the fair-market price of the average U.S. two-bedroom rental unit, renters working full-time need to earn at least $15.28 per hour. That\'s almost three times the current federal minimum wage and 37 percent more than renters needed to earn in 1999.

For the 14.8 million U.S. households that make $10,000 or less per year, a year\'s rent costs about 70 percent of their annual