Housing poverty in the Philippines

Dealing with slums and natural disasters
  • +106,600 families served +106,600 families served
  • 512,139 volunteers hosted in 2016 512,139 volunteers hosted in 2016
  • Projects: urban renewal and development, youth leadership movement, awareness raising and advocacy Projects: urban renewal and development, youth leadership movement, awareness raising and advocacy

Since we started in 1988, we have been tackling housing poverty in the Philippines by serving more than 106,600 families with decent housing.

With significant scaling up of our activities, the local team was able to help an average of over 30,000 families annually in the last three years. With our partners' help, we also provide families with improved access to healthcare, education and livelihood training. In responding to natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes, we work to rebuild lives and increase resilience against future calamities.

1 in 4 below the poverty line

Shelter needs are driven by the country’s growing population, poverty and prevalence of disasters. Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board showed that 25.2% of the population was classified as poor in 2012, a fall of 1.1% over 2009.

The poverty rate fell by 3% in the first quarter of 2013, compared with the corresponding quarter from 2012. Fishermen, farmers and children remain among the poorest.

Frequent natural disasters

We have been active in the Philippines for more than 26 years. In the wake of a disaster, we are among the first agencies to respond on the ground and work with families and communities year round to build resilience to future events.

The Philippines is hit by frequent seismic activity and around 20 typhoons a year, destroying lives, livelihood and homes. According to the country’s largest association of housing developers, the current housing deficit is estimated at 4 million units.

How we address housing poverty in the Philippines

We partner with government agencies, corporations, NGOs and faith-based groups to build homes, new lives and new jobs. A year…

We partner with government agencies, corporations, NGOs and faith-based groups to build homes, new lives and new jobs. A year after devastating disasters such as the 7.2-magnitude Bohol earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) both in November 2013, the Philippines was struck by Typhoons Hagupit (Ruby) and Seniang (Jangmi).

Amid helping survivors to rebuild homes and hope, our team has set its sights on reducing the total housing deficit in the country by 20% in 2020. As such, the “WeBuild” advocacy campaign was launched in December 2014 to reach out to donors, partners and volunteers across various sectors.

Through the Habitat Online Champions, we also tap into the power of social media to raise awareness of our work. International and local volunteers contribute time and labour while families also help build homes with their own hands.

Volunteers lend a hand too

We believe in bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope. By contributing their time, money and talent, volunteers represent the heart, hands and voice of Habitat in providing decent homes to Filipino families in need.

Be it an individual, corporate, or a group of friends or people from the community, volunteers make a societal impact not only in construction but also through lending their skills to our programmes and offices.

Children in the Philippines

How we build affordable homes

Families invest an initial downpayment and make affordable monthly mortgage payments toward the cost of their house (via not-for-profit micro-loans). Families also contribute sweat equity, or their own labor, to build houses, including their own, in the community. We also have a special home ownership programme for families who do not have the means to access social housing

Local partners then deal with health education and job skills training to ensure that the families become well settled in their new locations and have work to support themselves.

Key Facts & Figures

  • Population – circa 114.59 million
  • Urbanisation – 48%
  • Life expectancy – 70.14 years
  • Unemployment – 5.11%
  • Poverty line – 16.7%

Natural disaster relief and preparedness

The Philippines, located close to the equator, is highly prone to natural disasters. In 2013, large-scale devastation in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan and the Bohol earthquake, along with numerous other typhoons and the conflict in the Zamboanga region, took a heavy toll on lives and property.

We focus our disaster response efforts on providing shelter assistance, education, training and partnerships to survivors. Under the Rebuild Philippines programme, we distribute shelter repair kits in the aftermath of a disaster, and helps to rebuild homes and communities toward permanent recovery.
Read about our disaster relief work

Manila slum rehabilitation

Houses in the foreground were immediately destroyed upon vacation to stop other people moving onto the site. Many people live in appalling conditions on platforms just feet above Manila water courses. Human waste is going straight into the rivers, causing high levels of water pollution and loss of ecological diversity.

The slums are a public health issue, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority are in charge of the rehabilitation and development of the slums. This will protect the river and prevent it from becoming the source of a major epidemic.

In partnership with six organisations, led by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Habitat for Humanity has a key role in providing new homes for the families living in the slums, improving conditions for the families and the river ecology.

Community development

heart icon construction
We aim to build up communities by tackling some of the root causes of poverty in the Philippines and transforming lives through sustainable construction and livelihood programs. We also provide housing support services which leverage durable shelters as a catalyst for community transformation.

Through financial literacy and other sessions, families learn economic and social values to help them break out of poverty and improve their lives.

We aim to ease the national housing backlog by providing Filipino families with safe and affordable housing. For families who cannot even qualify for social housing, our team in the Philippines provides the opportunity and dignity of home ownership through the work of its Housing Project Development Group.

Related articles