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July 30, 2008

Investing to Empower Homeowners
    by Anne Moore Odell

The Calvert Foundation partners with Habitat for Humanity to offer investors a vehicle to drive homeownership while also receiving a financial return.

SocialFunds.com -- Habitat for Humanity International and the Calvert Social Investment Foundation recently launched a new program to create homes for families in need across the globe while, at the same time, offering investors a solid investment platform. The Calvert Foundation is hoping to raise up to $10 million, as the two well-known non-profits join their know-how, helping even more families experience homeownership.

The Habitat Investment Program is offered through the Calvert Foundation's Community Investment Note. Investors can choose the term of the investment, anywhere from one to ten years. Investors can also decide the interest rate, up to 2%. The investment monies go to Habitat for the Humanity International, who will then lend the money to their local affiliates and partners for the purpose of building and renovating more houses.

Starting in 1976, Habitat for Humanity has been working in local communities to build and remodel affordable homes, offering no interest mortgages to homeowners. To date, more than one million people have been served by Habitat for Humanity, with over 250,000 house built worldwide.

"The vast need for decent, affordable housing in our world means that we have to be creative in our response to it, while staying true to Habitat's mission," said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. "This exciting opportunity with Calvert Foundation will generate more capital to help further that mission. As supporters invest in the Habitat Investment Program, we will be able to strengthen our capacity, which, in turn, will allow us to invest in more families as together we build simple, decent homes worldwide."

Investors have the opportunity to reinvest their principal and interest at the end of their terms or to donate their interest to Habitat for Humanity as a tax-free donation.

Over the last 12 years, the Calvert Foundation has helped raise over $140 million in comparable Community Investment Note programs, with over 12,500 affordable homes built. The Calvert Foundation backs up all loans made to non-profit organizations, like Habitat for Humanity, through a variety of safeguards, protecting investors' capital.

The Calvert Foundation's model is to combine social and financial returns by using investment capital to help fund non-profits. This new Habitat program fulfills Calvert's model. The Habitat Investment Program, however, is a new direction for Habitat as they work to expand their strategies to get more families into homes. In the past two years Habitat has doubled the number of families it has been able to serve from 24,000 families in 2006 to 49,000 in 2007.

Habitat for Humanity will work to fundraise the interest paid on the loans. No cost of the interest paid on the loans will be passed on to the end-users.

Unlike the many of the loans made by subprime mortgage lenders, the loans made by community investment programs that help low income people buy homes have an extremely high repayment rate. Because of the due diligence and education offered by Habitat for Humanity and other community investment programs, homes bought with their support are showing none of the same foreclosure and repayment issues highlighted in past year. According to Habitat CEO Reckford, their foreclosure rate is less than 1%.

Investors can take part in the program through the Calvert Foundation or through their financial advisor with a minimum investment of $1,000. Investors also have the opportunity to invest online in the Habitat Investment Program at www.MicroPlace.com with a minimum of $100.

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