Housing poverty in Trinidad and Tobago

  • 625 people served in FY18 625 people served in FY18
  • 572 volunteers hosted in FY18 572 volunteers hosted in FY18
  • Projects: construction, training, microcredit Projects: construction, training, microcredit

We've been tackling housing poverty in Trinidad and Tobago since 1997.

We've served 355 families with direct housing solutions, and more than 1,800 with credit management and construction training.


Our local team serves the housing needs of people in the low-income bracket (also known as “bottom of the pyramid”).

There are over 60,000 squatter families — one-seventh of the population — living in 313 informal settlements – or slums.


The Ministry of Housing has a waiting list of 107,000 people in four categories:

  • Those who cannot afford mortgages and can only rent
  • Rent-to-own participants
  • Those who can afford only mortgages from US$16,700 to US$25,000
  • Those benefiting from subsidised housing

Affordability is another major issue. The median price for a 2-bedroom house and land was US$167,000 in September 2012, a near 300% increase from US$39,700 in 1993.

Lack of affordable homes

The factors that prevent low-income earners from homeownership are varied, but they often include an unwillingness by financial institutions to finance mortgages for this income bracket because of their risk of unstable employment and ability to pay.

The spiralling costs of houses and the lack of ownership certifications of inherited land are other barriers for families living in inadequate conditions.

Key facts & figures

  • Capital: Port of Spain
  • Proclaimed independence:1962 (The republic was founded in 1976)
  • Population – circa 1.4 million
  • Urbanisation – 53.3%
  • Life expectancy – 75.94 years
  • Unemployment – 4.9%
  • Poverty line – 20%

How we address housing poverty in Trinidad and Tobago

Habitat homes are built using culturally preferred materials of construction — concrete blocks and galvanised roofs — along with a…

Habitat homes are built using culturally preferred materials of construction — concrete blocks and galvanised roofs — along with a new pre-engineered steel system. We also facilitate housing repairs, renovations and completions for low-income families, along with training in financial management, community assessments and disaster risk reduction.

Our local team fundraises through its capital campaign and annual fund campaign. We receive donations of money and in-kind materials and services from corporations, organisations and individuals. Our “World of Hope” capital campaign plans to raise US$100 million to provide 500 housing solutions to local families between 2012 and 2016. The campaign’s priorities are:

building trinidad and tobago

Housing solutions: micro-loans and financial training

bricks construction icon
Habitat Homes in the country cost between US$16,700 and US$25,000 to build, depending on size and number of bedrooms. With our no-profit policy, we compare favourably with programmes offered by traditional lending institutions serving low-income families.

In addition, we provide homeowners with training in critical areas such as financial literacy. Our philosophy is to build not only homes, but also lives and, by extension, communities.

Annual fund: expanding local operations

hammer construction icon
The campaign will also seek to increase revenue for our Circle of Friends programme, which falls under the annual fund. The fund covers Habitat’s crucial operational expenses and requires approximately 10% of the national organisation’s annual budget to efficiently run operations.

Natural disaster relief and risk reduction and community development

heart icon construction
The capital campaign will contribute US$1 million (1/10 of its goal) to our regional disaster risk reduction and preparedness programme, "Building Readiness and Capacities for Emerging Disasters", or BRACED. The programme educates countries on disaster mitigation and equips them to better manage and recover from the unforeseen.

The capital campaign also focuses on building the capacity of high-risk communities to obtain the knowledge and skills needed for a sustainable future. Volunteer management is also an essential part of our operations, giving citizens a chance to give back to their communities and providing opportunities for international groups to demonstrate their commitment to the Habitat for Humanity cause.