December 21, 2005
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College students who can’t wait until next fall to start working on the first Habitat for Humanity house on college land can begin learning the necessary skills in a class called Homebuilding 101,” being offered daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Jan. 9 to Jan. 27, during the college’s January Interterm session. Beginning builders will learn the basic techniques of construction they will need to create new homes for low-income families.

“Homebuilding 101” is designed to familiarize students with the construction of a single family home, provide hands-on building opportunities at a Habitat home currently under construction in Northampton and prepare students to assume a leadership role in assisting unskilled volunteers at the Amherst College Habitat home construction.

The college announced in September that it would provide the land, as well as the labor, for the construction of four new homes for low-income residents of the town of Amherst. Three acres of college land off Southeast Street in Amherst were donated to the local chapter of the internationally active group that has brought capital, rather than charity, to the poor since 1976.

Construction of the first home in Amherst is expected to begin in the fall of 2006. A new Habitat home will be started at the beginning of every academic year for the next four years, so that a maximum number of Amherst College students, faculty, staff and alumni can take part in the work of building. The volunteer workers are expected to raise each home in one year. Designed by Kuhn Riddle Architects, a respected architectural studio in Amherst, the architecturally compelling contemporary houses will be gracefully sited and landscaped and will incorporate features that will reduce energy consumption and environmental impact. Despite their contemporary flair, the houses have been simply designed to be built by volunteers of mixed skills.

All are invited to participate in the Amherst Habitat project, but it is hoped that Amherst College students, faculty and staff will take the lead. Amherst College students have joined their Five College peers in the hands-on experience of constructing homes since 1992.

Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. By the end of 2005, Habitat will have built its 200,000th house and more than a million people will be living in Habitat homes they helped build and are buying through no-profit, zero-interest mortgages. More information is available at