~ 360 Built Smart Partnership set to transform communities, coast to coast ~

TORONTO, May 31, 2011 /CNW/ - Habitat for Humanity Canada announced today the launch of an innovative new program to address the affordable housing crisis and change the face of communities across Canada.  Beyond funding affordable home building, the 360 Built Smart Partnership will take a conscious and holistic approach to addressing the issue by driving funds to support all aspects of the need for affordable housing in local communities.

"For those without a safe, decent home, the impact can be devastating - both on the individual and on society," said Stewart Hardacre, President and CEO, Habitat for Humanity Canada. "Habitat for Humanity Canada's 360 Built Smart Partnership will take the next step in the fight to eradicate the country's housing crisis and by doing so will build stronger, healthier and more productive communities."

Made possible through the generous support of Holcim (Canada) Inc. and The Home Depot® Canada Foundation, Habitat's 360 Built Smart Partnership will be a powerful movement for change in Canada by helping local affiliates access critical funding to help them better serve families in their communities. These activities include green building to help reduce homeowner and environmental costs; providing financial education to help families succeed as homeowners; creating volunteer engagement programs that keep volunteers coming back to help build more affordable homes; developing strong local partnerships to help strengthen the local community; and fostering safety both on build sites and within the community.

Worldwide, more than 10 million people die each year from conditions related to substandard housing.  In Canada, the one in seven children who lives in poverty and the four million people who are in core housing need are 10 times more likely to contract meningitis, respiratory problems or asthma, less likely to graduate from high school and more likely to be impoverished and unemployed as adults.

Additionally, according to a 2010 report by the Wellesley Institute, the effect of the lack of affordable housing on Canadians' health is reducing our nation's productivity, limiting our national competitiveness and indirectly driving up the cost of health care and welfare.  The costs, both personal and social, are too high.

"Research shows that kids perform better in school, parents' employment prospects improve and families are happier and better equipped to face life's challenges after moving into a Habitat home, " stated Hardacre.  "It is our responsibility as Canadians to ensure that we support each other and provide each individual with the conditions they need to succeed."

Today, however, many of Habitat's 72 Canadian affiliates struggle to find the land, products, and financial donations they need to allow them to proactively address the issue of affordable housing in their communities. They require support in the critical areas of engaging volunteers, building homes, and working with partner families in helping them succeed with their new asset.

Support is needed to make Habitat's vision a reality.  The Home Depot Canada Foundation and Holcim (Canada) Inc. have shown innovation and leadership through collaboration by strategically partnering with Habitat to enable the launch of this forward-thinking initiative.  They are long-time supporters and staunch advocates for the need for affordable housing and sustainable communities.

Habitat for Humanity Canada has moved beyond its role as just a homebuilder, to develop a national movement for affordable housing. Habitat for Humanity Canada is calling on all Canadians, individuals, corporations and governments alike, to show their leadership in the area of affordable housing and get involved in the 360 Built Smart Partnership.  A donation to the 360 Built Smart Partnership is an investment in the future of a hard-working Canadian and in the future of our country.

To learn more about how to support sustainable communities in Canada, please visit www.habitat.ca.

About Habitat for Humanity Canada:
Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada is a national, non-profit organization working towards a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. With the help of over 50,000 volunteers and 72 affiliate organizations from coast to coast, their mission is to mobilize volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a means to break the cycle of poverty.

About Holcim Canada:
Holcim (Canada) Inc. is one of the country's leading producers and suppliers of products and services for the construction industry, serving customers across Canada.  With 3,000 employees, Holcim Canada manufactures cement, aggregates and ready-mix concrete and provides construction services to many of Canada's largest infrastructure projects. It has a portfolio of brands, including Dufferin in Ontario and Demix in Quebec.

Holcim Canada is a member of Holcim Group, a Swiss-based multinational with operations in more than 70 countries worldwide. A leading global brand, Holcim is recognized for its long-term financial performance, its environmental leadership, corporate social responsibility and sustainable construction.

About The Home Depot Canada Foundation:
As the charitable arm of The Home Depot Canada, The Home Depot Canada Foundation is committed to using its skills, knowledge and resources to build affordable, sustainable housing and vibrant, environmentally responsible communities for Canadian families in need. Bringing together volunteerism, do-it-yourself expertise, product donations and monetary grants, the Foundation supports affordable, sustainable housing projects, local neighbourhood improvement projects and community initiatives focused on the environment. Each year, associates from The Home Depot volunteer over 60,000 hours of hands on service on community projects across Canada through Team Depot, the company's volunteer program.

SOURCE Habitat for Humanity Canada

For further information:

Sarah Shelest | Optimum Public Relations | sarah.shelest@cossette.com | 416-934-8082


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