Next Monday, Oct. 4, 2010, is World Habitat Day, the day designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of the need for improved shelter and the worldwide connection between human health and housing.

Every week, more than 1 million people are born in, or move to, cities in the developing world. As a result, the urban population of developing countries will double from 2 billion to 4 billion in the next 30 years.

According to Habitat for Humanity, the number of low-income families who lack safe and affordable housing is related to the number of children who suffer from asthma, viral infections, anemia, stunted growth and other health problems. About 21,000 children have stunted growth attributable to the lack of stable housing; 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 9 are hospitalized for asthma attacks each year because of cockroach infestation at home; and more than 180 children die each year in house fires attributable to faulty heating and electrical equipment.

In the United States, the effort is focused on neighborhood revitalization, repairing homes, rehabbing vacant homes, and improving the energy efficiency of homes to provide holistic improvements in a community.

Around the world, many communities — with the help of Habitat for Humanity — will host World Habitat Day events. Habitat’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project is an annual, internationally recognized week of building that brings attention to the need for simple, decent and affordable housing. This year, the event will be held Oct. 4-8, as the Carters work alongside volunteers in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore and Annapolis, Md.; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; and Birmingham, Ala., to build, rehabilitate and improve 86 homes. Check out the World Habitat Day site to find an event near you.

Or get involved without leaving your easy chair by submitting a picture of the message "What will you build?" to Habitat's Photo Wall to remind decision-makers in Washington, D.C., to make housing a priority. Click here for more info.

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