I'm spending the afternoon at Habitat for Humanity’s Atlantic Avenue project in Brooklyn, New York. I'm there to help First Lady Michelle Obama kick off the United We Serve initiative that runs through the National Day of Service and Remembrance on 9-11.
This expanded call to service is just one piece of the Obama Administration's commitment to getting Americans to engage in meaningful community service, and I couldn't be happier about getting my hands dirty and breaking a sweat.
The kick-off is a nationwide effort that includes a number of Cabinet secretaries and senior administration officials participating in service projects across the country. During this summer, the President is renewing his call to all Americans to identify needs in their communities, engage in meaningful service to create change, and stay engaged with those projects long after September.
To create new service projects, find service projects in their communities, or share stories about projects, Americans can visit the Corporation for National and Community Service’s website, www.serve.gov.
The project I'm working on today is Habitat For Humanity NYC's first large-scale building. It will house 41 New York families in need — double the number of homes Habitat NYC produces in a typical year.
Please read more below about the Atlantic Avenue Habitat project and about President Obama's call to service.
Rising on a vacant lot in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, this project is located at Atlantic Avenue, Eastern Parkway and Sherlock Place. It includes a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom units in three four-story buildings. Eleven ground-floor residences will be handicapped-adaptable.
The project is being constructed with healthy and environmentally friendly materials and will strive to meet strict LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. Energy-efficient building methods will enable future Habitat homeowners to save up to 30 percent on their energy bills.
Ocean Hill-Brownsville is home to more than 85,000 people. The median household income in this community is $20,714 and one in four residents spends more than half of their income on housing. More than half! You can see why the local community board calls affordable housing one of the most pressing needs in this neighborhood.
Fewer than 16 percent of all Ocean Hill-Brownsville residents own their homes. These 41 Habitat-NYC homes will add significantly to the supply of affordable housing in this area and help revitalize the neighborhood. I am proud to have the opportunity to spend the afternoon here.
The President has said that the challenges America faces are unprecedented, and that we need to build a new foundation for economic growth in America. The Administration has begun this work with dramatic new investments in education, health care, and clean energy, but we cannot do this alone here in Washington. Economic recovery is as much about what you're doing in your communities, as what we're doing in Washington – and it’s going to take all of us, working together. Serve.gov makes it easy for you and all Americans not only to find ways to serve in your communities, but also to create and promote your own service projects.
This summer, President Obama is calling on all of us–-young and old, from every background, all across this country-–to participate in our nation’s recovery and renewal by serving in our communities. From June 22 to September 11, United We Serve will begin to engage Americans from coast to coast in addressing community needs in education, health, energy and the environment, and community renewal.
I did some work today, but this Cabinet Secretary's United We Serve participation is far from finished. I look forward to sending more bulletins from service sites throughout the summer.