Habitat for Humanity
The vision is for a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live through the elimination of housing poverty and homelessness
Habitat for Humanity
is supported by Faringdon Rotary Club
Our home building programme
Volunteer to build Britain's Homes
Right up your street, there could be an empty house, and yet, we have families on our doorsteps with nowhere to call home. Our Empty Homes Programme aims to bring the two together, by refurbishing empty houses for families in need.
We have just completed our 30th home renovation in Peckham with Stephen Williams MP handing the new tenants their keys in December. Our home building programme continues to gather momentum in 2014 with larger housing schemes already planned in Tunbridge Wells and Banbury.
These renovations are only possible with the help of volunteers. If you would like to join us on a building site in the UK to help renovate and fill empty homes, please contact our London office:
The Global Housing Need
The world is experiencing a global housing crisis. About 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing and 100 million are homeless1. These people are increasingly urban residents, and every week more than a million people are born in, or move to, cities in the developing world2.
Today, a billion people, 32% of the global urban population, live in urban slums. If no serious action is taken, the United Nations reports that the number of slum dwellers worldwide will increase over the next 30 years to nearly 2 billion3.
Bad housing has its greatest impact on children. As Lisa Harker, a British housing expert, explains,
“Childhood is a precious time when our experiences shape the adults we become―but children who grow up in bad housing are robbed of their future chances….(they have) lower educational attainment and a greater likelihood of being impoverished and unemployed as adults.” 4
Poor living conditions lead to poor health, which in turn limits a family’s ability to earn an income. Education and healthcare are not free in many countries, and so a limited income means that these are jeopardised; consequently, a family’s ability to escape poverty is reduced. Poverty housing perpetuates the poverty cycle for generations.
How decent housing combats poverty
Habitat for Humanity has shown that building homes does more than put a roof over someone’s head. In clean, decent, stable housing:
- Families can provide stability for their children.
- A family’s sense of dignity and pride grow.
- Health, physical safety, and security improve.
- Education and job prospects increase.
Safe, decent housing improves health
Academic research confirms that “Clean, warm housing is an essential input for prevention and care of diseases of poverty like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, and malaria”1.
An Emory University research study on Habitat for Humanity’s work in Malawi found Habitat housing improved the health of young children as much as water and sanitation programmes. The study found that children under 5 living in Habitat for Humanity houses had 44% less malaria, respiratory, or gastrointestinal diseases compared to children living in traditional houses2.
Housing is a great means of wealth creation
For families, especially those with a lower income, who are able to own a home, ownership is an important means of wealth accumulation in the form of equity and forced savings resulting from mortgage repayment3. In low-income countries, housing construction creates job opportunities for migrants to cities and stimulates the creation of small business. The process of securing land tenure for informal settlements helps to increase access to credit4.
Good housing in communities attracts economic investment and development
Good housing also contributes to thriving school systems and community organisations. It is a catalyst for civic activism and a stimulus for community-based organisations. Safe homes and neighbourhoods, in which residents are satisfied with housing conditions and public services, help to build social stability and security5.
Habitat for Humanity’s methodology assists the wider process of development
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that all 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organisations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. They include reducing extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease epidemics such as AIDS, and developing a global partnership for development6.
Whilst the provision of safe, decent housing is our main aim, the way in which Habitat for Humanity operates helps to fulfil many of the MDGs, as demonstrated in a report drawn up by Queen’s University in Belfast.
Housing must become a priority
If action to decrease poverty is to be successful, increasing the housing supply across the globe is essential. Adequate housing is vitally important to the health of the world’s economies, communities, and populations, yet the percentage of people without access to decent, stable housing is rising. The United Nations projects that by the year 2030 an additional 3 billion people, about 40% of the world’s population, will need access to housing7. If we are to prevent such a dramatic escalation of the housing crisis, and if we are to succeed in the fight against poverty, we must support the expansion of housing both as policy and as practice.
Habitat for Humanity has projects in over 70 countries. Habitat for Humanity Great Britain works with other national offices to eliminate housing poverty and homelessness from the face of the earth. We share a common vision of a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live.
Housing has a catalytic impact on the many areas of international development. These include:
- Income generation - The poor often use their home for income generation, such as home cooking for sale, collecting and sorting cloth, sewing, etc.
- Education - A room that is quiet and well lit enables students to do homework and improves educational prospects.
- Personal safety - A home that can be secured protects vulnerable adolescents, and also enables adults to leave their home unoccupied while they go out to work.
- Health - Unplastered walls can harbour virus-carrying insects like the triatomine bug in South America. Safe water and hygienic toilets have a tremendous impact in reducing the risk of waterborne diseases and dysentery.
When we make a house a home we also strengthen family life and wellbeing. It becomes the place where people grow together, support each other, and laugh together.