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Roslynite Set for Bike Marathon

Biking for Affordable Housing

Roslyn resident Allison Shea, currently a student at St. Lawrence University, will be spending her spring and summer in most rigorous fashion. Starting on May 13 and lasting until July 21, Alli and 31 other young people will be biking across the country in an effort to raise funds for Bike & Build, an organization dedicated to creating affordable housing for American workers.

Alli and her fellow bikers hope to each raise a minimum of $4,000, all of which will be donated to the Bike & Build affordable housing cause and to the houses that the bikers hope to construct along the way. “I need help to reach that goal,” Alli told The Roslyn News.

The bikers will begin their trip at Nags Head, NC, a town on the North Carolina coast. A little over two months later, they will end up in San Diego, CA.

“There is no county in the entire United States where an individual making minimum wage can pay the Fair Market Rent for the area,” Alli said, explaining her reason for the trip and the funds.  “We need housing people can afford. It is the first step to bettering our economy, and the lives of others.”

The donations, she added, will have a serious impact on the affordable housing landscape throughout the country.  People can donate online at (http://bike or they can send a check payable to ‘Bike & Build’ with Alli’s name in the memo line to: Bike & Build
, 6109 Ridge Ave, Bldg 2, Philadelphia, PA 19128.

“I heard about Bike & Build from my freshman orientation leader last summer, who had done a similar program,” Alli related on her website.  “She was not a B&B alumni but had heard great things about the program. My dad had biked across the country in 1995, when he was about 35, and talks endlessly about the incredible friendships he forged.

“While I liked the idea of biking across country, I was looking for other aspects, too.  Service has always been important to me. In junior high and high school I volunteered at a local animal shelter, and also worked extensively with the mentally handicapped.

“The affordable housing cause is certainly a relatively new one for me.  However, the more research I have done, the more I realize how practical a concern it really is.  To be able to provide affordable housing would bring hundreds of families off of the streets or crammed into the homes of relatives.  In the Canton area, where St. Lawrence is located, there’s a serious housing crunch.  The lack of job opportunities force most people to hold blue-collar or seasonal jobs.  St. Lawrence County has the lowest average income in New York State, just around $14,000. However, there are very few affordable housing options for this population.

“There’s simply something to be said about struggling with a group towards a common goal,” Alli concluded.  “I think we will all come to rely upon each other a little bit for mental support and encouragement.  I know myself well enough to know that I’d be more than ready to be that cheerleader for those that need me to be.  While I’m sure that I will grow attached to all of the other bikers and be in no real rush to end the trip, I know that there can simply be no better feeling than reaching that final stop and screaming ‘we did it’ at the top of our lungs.”

Since 2002, Bike & Build has contributed $2,780,000 to housing groups to fund projects planned by young adults. In the summer of 2010, donations totaled more than  $490,000. Bike & Build hopes to donate at about this contribution level for the summer of 2011. Through pre-arranged gifts, Bike & Build funds affordable housing projects executed by its participants in communities where our events begin. Through its grant program, Bike & Build supports projects involving young people nationwide. Along each route and through on the road donations, Bike & Build supports affordable housing organizations.