INHABITAT: Can you tell us a little bit about National Women Build Week and what prompted Habitat for Humanity to start the event five years ago?
Lisa Marie: Habitat’s Women Build and Lowe’s established National Women Build Week in 2008 to challenge women to devote at least one day of service to create affordable housing. Every year for the last five years, thousands of women have volunteered in the week leading up to Mother’s Day to build and advocate for simple, decent and affordable homes.
INHABITAT: The event takes place around Mother’s Day and helps single mothers across the nation. How dire is the housing situation for single mothers in the U.S. and how many houses do you plan to build during National Women Build Week for these courageous moms?
Lisa Marie: In the U.S. we estimate 70 percent of Habitat for Humanity households are headed by women, but National Women Build Week engages women volunteers to build in partnership with any Habitat partner homeowners, whether they are single-mothers, single-fathers or couples. Globally, 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing. In the United States, more than 44 million Americans are spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing. A recent study conducted by the University of Southern Indiana, sponsored by the Whirlpool Corporation and Women Build, noted that homeowners experienced a 91 percent improvement in their family’s quality of life since becoming homeowners. Habitat homebuyers help to build their home or the homes of others process as part of their sweat equity, learning new skills in the process. According to the University of Southern Indiana study, Habitat homeowners reported a 97 percent favorable build experience. This year, Lowe’s is sponsoring 275 builds, in all 50 states across the United States.