[Hpn] Bush in Florida Works on Housing for Needy

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Tue, 05 Jun 2001 16:49:08 -0700

"Down on his knees and soaked in sweat, President Bush had nails pounded
into his forehead by homeless advocate chance martin. The nails are reported
to be in critical condition."

ok, so I have an active fantasy life...


Tuesday June 5 10:39 AM ET

Bush in Florida Works on Housing for Needy

By Patricia Wilson

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - Down on his knees and soaked in sweat, President
Bush pounded nails into boards for a house fora single mother on Tuesday in
a show of support for his troubled proposal to funnel government money to
faith-based organizations.

``I can barely lift my arm,'' Bush said later.

Winding up a two-day trip to Florida with a pitch for his faith-based
solutions to society's ills, Bush took part in a Habitat for Humanity
project to build homes for the needy in a working-class Tampa neighborhood.

The event began with a prayer by the Rev. David Brazelton, who stressed the
importance of Jesus in the effort. ``We are building a life, not just a
house,'' he said.

Wearing a baseball hat, work gloves, a nail apron, blue jeans and sensible
shoes, Bush got down on his knees and pounded nails into two-by-fours to
help construct a wall for the house that a single mother, Johana Rodriguez,
will live in with her two children.

The rat-a-tat of hammering echoed across the sandy lot as 40 people,
including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez, joined to
put the small home together. Bush was quickly soaked with sweat in the
morning heat.

After helping raise a side wall of the house, Bush then hugged Rodriguez and
held up a light brown welcome mat for the home.

Bush's plan to let churches, synagogues and mosques help deliver $250
billion in federal social programs, ranging from aid to pregnant teens to
helping the homeless, is a pillar of his domestic agenda and a flash point
for some who see a blurring of the constitutional line between church and

His faith-based initiative stalled in the Senate even before Republican Sen.
James Jeffords of Vermont said he would quit the party to become an
independent. That hands control of the chamber to the Democrats, making
legislative victories difficult for Bush.

After his labor, Bush made an impassioned plea for his faith-based plan in a
speech to Habitat volunteers, calling America a land of faith and

``It is a land of thousands and hundreds of people who ask the question when
they wake up, 'what can I do to love my neighbor?' That is not a government
function. That doesn't happen because of government,'' he said.


``And that's why it is so important for our nation to recognize the promise
and power of faith in America, and that's why our government should not fear
working side by side with faith-based organizations -- quite the opposite,''
he said.

He said ``skeptics of faith'' should come to Habitat for Humanity building
sites across the United States. He touted his plan to triple funding for
charitable and volunteer groups like Habitat for Humanity to $66 million in
the next budget cycle.

Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 100,000 houses in more than 60
countries, including some 30,000 across the UnitedStates. The houses are
purchased by the families who live in them but they are affordable since
they are sold at no profit, no interest is charged on the mortgage and
volunteers build the houses under trained supervision.

Individuals, corporations, religious groups and others support the group
financially. This is precisely the way that Bush believes that society's
problems can be solved.

Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, became
heavily involved with Habitat for Humanity in 1984 when he led a work group
to New York to help renovate a six-story building with 19 families in need
of decent shelter.

Despite support from Republican leaders and some prominent Democrats, Bush's
faith-based plan has drawn fire from both ends of the political spectrum.

Religious conservatives worry that the lure of federal money will lead
charities to abandon their spirituality. Civil libertarians worry that
government aid for charitable work will be separated from money used to
promote religious activities.

Apart from expanding a provision of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that allows
faith-based groups to compete for federal funds, Bush's plan would encourage
giving by expanding tax credits for personal and corporate charitable

**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**
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