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Heather McCune's Editorial Archives

The echo of hammers hitting nails has been a familiar ring throughout the country as the housing industry has profited from one of the longest periods of economic expansion in recent history. Year after year new home builders have put housing starts well above the million starts per year mark. The strong economy and the resulting growth in new home construction have made home ownership a possibility for more Americans than ever before.

The number of Americans able to participate in this most American dream will get a boost in the week ahead as Habitat for Humanity International begins its annual building blitz, the Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP). This year volunteers will complete 157 houses in three cities in one week. During Habitat's Building on Faith Week, Sept. 11-17, the former President and Mrs. Carter will join thousands of volunteers in New York City, Jacksonville, Fla., and Sumter County, Ga., for the 5-day event. During JCWP 2000, Habitat will dedicate its 100,000th house and begin a campaign to build another 100,000 houses by 2005.

In Brooklyn, N.Y.-the site of the first JCWP 17 years ago-12 houses will be built while a 10-unit rehab takes place in Harlem. In Jacksonville, Fla., volunteers will undertake a three-week, 100-house effort sponsored by HabiJax, the local affiliate. In Sumter County, Ga., home of Habitat for Humanity's international headquarters, 35 houses will be built in two Sumter County locations: 30 houses in The Easter Morning Community in Americus, and five houses at Milestone Estates in Plains. These houses will mark the realization of the Sumter County Initiative-the combined efforts of Habitat and local community groups to provide all Sumter County residents the option of simple, decent, affordable housing.

Central to the efforts in the week ahead are the efforts of The Vinyl Siding Institute. Its members have donated hundreds of thousands of square feet of certified vinyl siding and accessories to the JCWP. In addition, through VSI, companies are sending volunteers to help with installation training on this project. VSI member companies also will have more than 70 volunteers working to build homes during the blitz build.

"We've always donated products to Habitat projects, but this marks the first time we are contributing vinyl siding that has been independently certified to pass the industry standard for quality," said Jery Huntley, VSI's executive director. "Though the VSI vinyl siding certification program, all the siding on these builds have been verified to meet or exceed a dozen tests for weatherability, wind resistance, impact resistance and other quality standards."

Certified vinyl siding:

  • meets or exceeds the industry standard for quality and performance.

  • meets manufacturers' advertised specifications for length, width, thickness, glass and color.

  • withstands the impacts of recommended installation procedures.

  • lays straight on a flat wall.

  • maintains its integrity and will not buckle.

  • withstands the effects of normal seasonal temperature fluctuations.

  • stays on the house in normal weather conditions, and

  • maintains a uniform color over time.

    "Vinyl siding is the material of choice for almost all of the Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the United States," said founder Millard Fuller. "I can come back to a vinyl-sided Habitat house 10 years after it was built, and it still looks like the siding was installed the day before."

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