Building safe and decent homes

We build affordable, social housing to tackle urban poverty around the world - from slums to rural areas.

We tackle rural and urban poverty housing everywhere, from the UK to Uganda and Nepal. As a charity building affordable housing, we work with the most vulnerable families to provide safe and decent housing. Our projects focus on everything from rehabilitating slums, upgrading residential blocks of flats as well as building strong communities that build local businesses and resilience in the face of natural disasters.

Improving poor housing conditions

We always start by assessing first the needs of people and communities living in slums and rural areas to ensure that we support them where the need is greatest. We also work extensively with vulnerable families such as orphans, HIV-affected families, the handicapped and female-headed households.

Today 1.6 billion people live in slums and informal settlements where the walls aren’t sturdy enough, doors are missing and roofs are leaking. These homes threaten to collapse at any time – and they regularly do.

Homes create wealth

Being able to own a home is an important way to create wealth. It provides a long term investment in the future (e.g. thanks to our nonprofit micro-loans) and the foundation to a new world of opportunities. Families are often excluded from basic services (school, banks, utilities) because they lack proper housing.

In developing countries, home construction creates job opportunities for migrants to cities and stimulates the creation of small businesses. The process of securing land tenure in slums also helps to increase access to credit.

What is the impact of a home?

Good housing attracts economic investment and helps develop entire communities. A safe, decent home improves the health of the whole family – as well as that of its community by limiting the spread of diseases such as cholera.

At the simplest level, a home is a place where we can store our goods safely, with lockable doors and windows. It’s the place where most businesses start. It is the catalyst to break the cycle of poverty.

How we build affordable homes
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. Lisa Harker, British housing expert

Improving access to housing

If our plan to tackle rural and urban poverty housing is to be successful, we need to dramatically increase the supply of homes across the globe. Access to safe, decent homes is vital to our health and to the global economy. And yet, the UN project that by 2030 an additional 3 billion people (40% of the world’s population) will need access to housing.

In order to prevent the growth of slums and a terrible escalation of the global housing crisis, we must work with governments and private housebuilders to scale our operations and build more and faster than ever. Lobbying governments to recognise housing as a basic human right is also part of our plan to guarantee a safe, decent home for everyone.

Tackling the spread of diseases

A study by the Emory University on our work in Malawi found that “Habitat homes” improved the health of young…

A study by the Emory University on our work in Malawi found that “Habitat homes” improved the health of young children just as much as clean water and toilet projects. 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 houses (let alone homeless children).

The study confirms that “clean, warm housing is an essential input for prevention and care of diseases of poverty like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, and malaria”.

Safe, decent housing improves health

Education and healthcare are not free in many countries, and so a limited income means that these are jeopardised. As a result, a family’s ability to escape poverty is reduced.

In 40 years of working across the globe, we have shown that building homes does more than put a roof over someone’s head. In clean, decent, stable housing:

  • Children have better school attendance and performance
  • Parents are able to find (and keep) better jobs
  • Families can provide safety and stability for their children (e.g. avoiding losing school material to leaks when it rains)
  • Health, physical safety, and security improve
Housing poverty in Colombia

Infographics: the impact of a home

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