Housing poverty in Colombia

  • 730 people served in FY18 730 people served in FY18
  • 401 volunteers hosted in FY18 401 volunteers hosted in FY18
  • Projects: holistic programmes, education, reconstruction in slum areas Projects: holistic programmes, education, reconstruction in slum areas

We've been addressing housing poverty in Colombia by enabling vulnerable communities to gain access to safe, decent housing.

This is fulfilled through holistic programmes for neighbourhood improvement and home improvement in slums and other poor settlements.

Key facts & figures

  • Capital: Bogota
  • Proclaimed independence: July 20, 1810
  • Population: 47.661.000
  • Urbanisation: N/A
  • Life expectancy: 77 years
  • Unemployment rate: 9.65 percent
  • Population living below poverty line: 34%


In recent years, the economic growth of Colombia has placed the country among the world’s “emerging economies,” but nearly 34% of the population still live in poor conditions (DANE, 2005).

Colombia is also the world’s seventh most inequitable country (Banco Mundial, 2012).


Colombia has been experiencing violent internal conflicts for more than 50 years. Since 1985, 5.9 million Colombians have been violently displaced as a result of this conflict (CODHES, 2014).

In search of safety and a better future, the displaced population migrates to urban areas, and informal settlements proliferate on the cities’ peripheries.


As a result, 3.8 million households, nearly 30% of all families in Colombia, do not have adequate homes (according to Ministry of Housing estimates from 2013), and 662,146 families are homeless, or 5% of the popularion.

Characteristics of Colombian slums

Challenges posed by the informal settlements include: Lack of secure land tenure (homes built on land they don’t own) Lack…

Challenges posed by the informal settlements include:

  • Lack of secure land tenure (homes built on land they don’t own)
  • Lack of access to basic services
  • Poor structural quality
  • Low accessibility to resources for the progressive construction of a house
  • Very limited access to education, social and health services as well as employment possibilities.

We enable holistic slum improvement projects led by the communities, with the active participation of public and private partners, donors and volunteers.

The goal is to reduce the qualitative housing deficit in urban zones by 10% by 2018. This is performed through strategies at the community, sectoral and societal levels.

Slums in Colombia

Community: Housing solutions and housing access services

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Through participatory territorial diagnoses, construction technical assistance, training, and workshops that promote community self-management, our local team enables the construction of progressive housing and the improvement of community infrastructure in informal settlements.

Sector: Territorial Development of Markets and Advocacy

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We seek to create the necessary market knowledge for the private sector to develop affordable and high-quality products and services for home improvement in informal settlements. Likewise, we advocate for home improvement, secure tenure, access to basic services and the improvement of collective infrastructure.

Society: Awareness and mobilisation

Our local office designs and implements campaigns, events and actions to raise awareness, share experiences and promote adequate housing access alternatives for vulnerable populations. Through our construction and non-construction volunteer opportunities, we support the growth of communities. National and international volunteers can donate time, work and talent to help families access a decent and adequate home.

We've also identified the need to diversify our local funding sources by seeking donations with a good level of commitment and frequency. We are continually expanding our communication channels with donors, making our collection processes more transparent, developing management and transparency reports on the contributions. Demonstrating that the investment is managed efficiently and reliably, inviting donors to participate in our projects, and showing them the great work that our local team is doing in Colombia.