From Habitat houses to Habitat neighborhoods
In 2009 several Habitat affiliates in Europe and Central Asia supported a record number of families, among them Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan that also marked its first decade of work.
Habitat works on improving living conditions in the Soviet-era multi-apartment complexes.
Habitat opened in Kyrgyzstan in 1999. Within a year, it broke ground for the first ten houses on a plot of land on the outskirts of Bishkek, Kyrgyz capital. Later, 58 more Habitat homes were completed in the area, making up a whole neighborhood. It was called after Habitat; the same name given to the main street in the area.
Throughout these years, Habitat for Humanity has been rapidly expanding operations in the country. To date, it has served 1885 families in the capital and around 20 villages in three regions. It runs a number of innovative projects that change traditional Habitat models of building homes and offering them to low-income families through affordable mortgages.
Completion of Half-Build Houses program provides partner families with small short-term loans to finish construction of homes left incomplete since the end of communism. This project is executed in partnership with microfinance companies and targets middle-class families who cannot afford to get a bank loan with a 24-30 percent interest rate, typical in many post-communist countries.
Another unique project of Habitat Kyrgyzstan is improving living conditions in condominiums. Ugly multi-apartment complexes litter skylines of many cities in the region and are often referred to as a housing time bomb.
Reconstruction is done in common areas such as stairs and entrances.
These buildings have been decaying for at least two decades, as after the collapse of the centrally planned economy there were no funds to maintain them. Resettling inhabitants, as many as 200-300 families at a time, is not an option as it requires a lot of time and resources.
To address the need, Habitat has developed models for partnering with condominium associations to renovate structures by overhauling roofs, staircases and entrances.
At the same time, the year 2009 saw successful implementation of the second phase of the pilot project Addressing Physical Barriers to Social Inclusion. In partnership with Open Society Institute and Soros Foundation Kyrgyzstan, Habitat supported 14 families with mentally disabled members. It offered them a hand up in renovating and completing half-build houses.
Past year was also outstanding in terms of working with volunteers who come from all parts of the world to work alongside partner families on the Global Village program. Habitat Kyrgyzstan hosted 10 Global Village teams - the biggest number in the history of the country organization.
To sign up for a Global Village trip to this country, see current team schedules!
What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Kyrgyzstan in a number of ways. Here are some examples:
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