ATLANTA, May 30, 2007 -- The Home Depot's charitable, nonprofit foundation today announced a 10-year, $100 million plan aimed to make communities healthier and more stable. The funds, addressing two main areas, will help support the development of 100,000 affordable, healthy homes, and the planting and preservation of more than 3 million trees over the next decade.
"The Home Depot Foundation views houses as providing more than just shelter and thinks about trees as providing more than just shade," said Kelly Caffarelli, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation. "We believe in creating environments -- both inside a home and outside in a community -- that contribute to the financial stability, personal success, physical health and overall well-being of our neighbors."
One reason behind the foundation's push for affordable homes is the extreme shortage of such housing nationwide. The organization said that there demand for 5.3 million more affordable housing units than are available, and that more than 14 million families pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing, leaving little for their expenses.
A related crisis is the near-epidemic rates of asthma here, with more than 6.5 million children experiencing breathing problems associated with unhealthy indoor air quality, which can be significantly more polluted than outside air.
The Foundation touted their planned homes as being environmentally responsible, bringing reduced utility bills, better indoor air quality, lower maintenance expenses of durable materials and easy access to transportation, employment and recreational spaces.
Planting and preserving trees in urban and suburban areas is another way to improve human health and the environment. Trees can reduce energy use by cooling urban areas in the summer and providing shelter in the winter. The organization estimates that placing trees properly in a yard can reduce a home's energy usage by 30 percent.
Trees also provide natural infrastructure that controls stormwater runoff and erosion, reducing the need for cities to undertake expensive public works projects. Moreover, areas with adequate tree cover experience less crime, and residential property values increase by up to 20 percent. Over the past three decades, America has lost 30 percent of its urban forest, which is equal to the removal of more than 600 million trees.
"Whether we are helping a policeman afford to live in the city he protects or providing a healthy, safe place to play for hundreds of children in Minneapolis by planting 100 shade trees in their local park, our 10-year pledge is aimed at impacting people's lives in a positive, personal way," Caffarelli said. "The projects and organizations we support provide tangible benefits to individuals and families as they save on their monthly bills, have fewer visits to the doctor and enjoy a better quality of life."