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Habitat for Humanity, HOPE International offer home-improvement loans in Ukraine

September 17, 2008

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BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA (September 17, 2008)
– Habitat for Humanity and HOPE International (HOPE) today announced they are joining to provide affordable home-improvement loans to HOPE’s established microfinance clients in Ukraine. The partnership draws on the strengths of both organizations, Habitat for Humanity as an internationally recognized leader in addressing substandard housing and HOPE as a microfinance network with well-established clients and a 10-year history in Ukraine.

The pilot program in Ukraine’s Transcarpathian region is expected to reach 200 families in need in its first year. Substandard housing is prevalent in this region of Ukraine, where Soviet-era infrastructure is beginning to crumble and the economy remains weak.

HOPE has issued microloans in Transcarpathia in western Ukraine for eight years, but in the past has restricted its loans to income-generating activities. Clients were expected to use the loans to build their small businesses, generating more personal income to pay for other needs from school fees to home improvements. In its dealings with clients over the years, HOPE has observed that the high cost of home improvements has prohibited many families from achieving their home-improvement goals. “This new loan product will be very popular with our clients,” says Andre Barkov, HOPE Ukraine Country Director. “These home loans will be offered at low interest rates to the best clients, rewarding their loyalty and their commitment to loan repayment.”

Habitat for Humanity has been active in home-improvement lending to families in need in other Eastern European nations and is eager to expand its work to Ukraine. “Habitat for Humanity offers low-income families a hand up, not a handout,” said Lucija Popovska, program director for Habitat’s Europe and Central Asia operations. “We’re excited to work with HOPE on a project that will help many more families into simple, decent shelter in Ukraine.”

Clients who have a strong repayment history with HOPE and who meet certain other eligibility criteria will be able to access loans ranging from $500 to $2,500 to finance home improvements such as roof repairs, plumbing improvements and electrical work. Following the Habitat model, loan recipients will be expected to invest their own labor in remodeling their homes. This will reduce the cost of the project and increase the pride of home ownership. The below-market-rate loans require monthly installments for six to 24 months, with payments deposited in a revolving fund to generate additional home-improvement loans to more families. 

Habitat for Humanity regards access to credit as one of the key components to lifting low-income families out of poverty and out inadequate housing. Partnerships with like-minded organizations such as HOPE develop sustainable housing solutions to help exponentially more families in need help themselves to safe and secure homes where they can grow into all that God intends.

About Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built nearly 300,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for 1.5 million people.
In Europe and Central Asia Habitat for Humanity International works in 19 countries, building and repairing houses, offering housing microfinance services, improving water and sanitation, working on disaster response and advocating for affordable housing, all with families in need. In this region, Habitat has served more than 4,600 families together with volunteers and homeowners. Find out more at www.habitateurope.org.

HOPE International (HOPE)
HOPE International empowers those living in need around the world to escape poverty by providing microloans, savings services, training, and mentoring to help people become self-sufficient. Working in 12 of the poorest, least-served countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean, HOPE is a Christian faith-based non-profit organization focused on alleviating the many dimensions of poverty – physical, social, and spiritual – through microenterprise development. Learn more at www.hopeinternational.org.

Contact:
Eddie Byrd
Communications Director
Habitat for Humanity Europe and Central Asia
Office:   +421 2 336 690 00
E-mail: ebyrd@habitat.org