For former President Jimmy Carter, it was much more than a photo-op.
President Carter and his wife Rosalynn donned their tool belts and hard hats Wednesday and got straight to work on a Habitat for Humanity building site in Globeville, one of Denver's poorest neighborhoods.
The Carters' stop in Denver was part of a national tour marking their 30 years of volunteering with the non-profit organization that builds homes for low-income families.
Carter said his work is inspired by his firm belief that "having a decent home is a basic human right."
At the Globeville site, Habitat for Humanity is building 11 new homes and carrying out much-needed repairs on 15 existing ones. A brand-new pastel green townhome will go to Saba Asgadon, a single mother of two children. "I never thought I was going to own a house, but now I will," she said. Asgadon herself was hard at work on the building site -- as Habitat for Humanity homeowners must put at least 200 hours "sweat equity" into construction of their home or neighbors' homes.
Carter said projects such as these highlight the need for affordable housing not only for low-income Americans, but also for members of the middle-class. "The people I knew as middle-class folks when I went out of office as President are qualifying for food stamps, not just because they don't have jobs but because their relative earnings are going down," he said.
In Denver, as the housing market has recovered, home prices have shot up and rents are steadily rising. According to Habitat for Humanity numbers, a minimum-wage worker would have to be working two-and-a-half full-time jobs in order to pay the average cost of rent.