Thursday, September 30, 2010


For a very long time, I have eschewed routine. The idea of grocery shopping on Tuesday and doing laundry on Friday has had no appeal whatsoever. Who wants their lives to be that predictable?

The other day I had one of those flashes of insight that pops into your brain out of nowhere. The flash was that routine means you have to think less about these mundane household chores. This appeals to me tremendously.

Perhaps there's wisdom in this approach to not having to think about every little detail. Maybe this is why generations of women have kept a grocery list on the fridge where they added things to it as it occurred to them. I at least have a pad of paper with a magnet attached to the fridge.

Perhaps routine is the old-fashioned automation.

World Habitat Day on Monday

Habitat for Humanity will join efforts around the world to mark World Habitat Day on Monday, October 4. World Habitat Day is a day the United Nations has set aside to call attention to the dire need for affordable, adequate housing.

When you go home to your nice, climate-controlled house today, think about some of these facts:

Housing improves health

  • 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. (Sandel, et al: 1999)
  • Children younger than 5 living in Habitat for Humanity houses in Malawi showed a 44 percent reduction in malaria, respiratory or gastrointestinal diseases compared with children living in traditional houses.
  • Children in poor housing have increased risk of viral or bacterial infections and a greater chance of suffering mental health and behavioral problems. (Harker: 2006)
  • Housing deprivation leads to an average of 25 percent greater risk of disability or severe ill health across a person’s life span. Those who suffer housing deprivation as children are more likely to suffer ill health in adulthood, even if they live in non-deprived conditions later in life. (Marsh, et al.: 2000)

Housing has a positive impact on children

  • Children of homeowners are more likely to stay in school (by 7 to 9 percent), and daughters of homeowners are less likely to have children by age 18 (by 2 to 4 percent). (Green and White: 1996)
  • Owning a home leads to a higher-quality home environment, improved test scores in children (9 percent in math and 7 percent in reading), and reduced behavioral problems (by 3 percent). (Haurin, Parcel, and Haurin: 2002)
  • Children who live in poor housing have lower educational attainment and a greater likelihood of being impoverished and unemployed as adults. (Harker: 2006)

Housing strengthens communities

  • Homeowners are more likely to know their U.S. representative (by 10 percent) and school board head by name (by 9 percent), and are more likely to vote in local elections (by 15 percent) and work to solve local problems (by 6 percent). (DiPasquale and Glaeser: 1998)
  • Homeowners are more likely to be satisfied with their homes and neighborhoods, and are more likely to volunteer in civic and political activities. (Rohe, Van Zandt, and McCarthy: 2000)
  • Resident ownership is strongly related to better building security and quality, and to lower levels of crime. (Saegert and Winkel: 1998)

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