Habitat for Humanity reports that in 2011, more than 70% of the houses it built were constructed in partnership with family households headed by women. In response to this striking statistic—and the sobering fact that one in six American kids now lives in poverty—Habitat spearheaded Women Build, an effort that brings together civic-minded women and those who want to improve their basic home-building skills.
Women Build, the brainchild of Habitat for Humanity and Lowe's, the program's underwriter, is now in its fifth year. This year, National Women Build Week will take place from May 5 to 13 (the week leading up to Mother's Day) at 275 job sites across all 50 states. “We see a lot of diversity,” says Lisa Marie Nickerson, associate director of Women Build at Habitat for Humanity International, who notes that projects range from remodels to new construction, from urban infill to rural lots, from repairs on existing homes to revitalization of neighborhoods.
Women Build works like this: During National Women Build Week, Lowe’s will run training clinics in their local stores for Women Build participants, who will then be able to report to a Habitat for Humanity Women Build site to voluntter for a day and help build a home for a family in need. It’s a win-win for anyone who cares about the affordable housing shortage in their community and who wants to become handier with a drill and spirit level.
This year, Habitat is making a special push to target women aged 18 to 24, but the spirit is an inclusive one. All are welcome on a job site, no matter what the skill level, says Nickerson. What’s more, though this is a push to empower women with basic construction skills, men are absolutely welcome. To volunteer with a local Women Build affiliate that could use your help, visit www.womenbuild.org.
Amy Albert is a senior editor at Builder.