Regional profile: Latin America and the Caribbean
If you would like to make an impact in Latin America and the Caribbean, consider planning a Global Village trip to one of these countries:
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Dominican Republic
Habitat for Humanity is working to support long-term recovery in Haiti but is not currently sending volunteers. We encourage you to donate to Habitat’s efforts in Haiti or plan a Global Village trip to another area of Latin America and the Caribbean in need of your efforts.
Habitat’s work in Latin America and the Caribbean
Habitat has built more than 60,000 houses in 23 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. These countries have established local affiliates and formed a regional board of directors with support staff that manage and work on program development. The first Habitat houses in the region went up in 1979 in Guatemala, the organization’s second overseas project area.
Habitat LAC recognizes Latin America’s housing deficit isn’t just about the amount of houses. Though 28 million housing units are needed to reduce overcrowding in the region, there are 26 million existing homes that are inadequate by UN standards. The homes are plagued by endemic diseases, festering waste problems and a lack of water supply, among other problems. The area also has a high degree of socioeconomic inequality, with high land prices and high rates of urbanization. In recent years, time and energy were dedicated not only to building new homes but also to attacking the region’s “qualitative deficit” through incremental building, repairs and advocacy efforts. This combined effort resulted in a record number of new houses, rehabilitations and repairs.
In addition to putting up walls and swinging hammers, Habitat improves access to decent housing by providing microcredit for home improvements, organizing home improvement workshops for local residents and establishing valuable alliances with other nongovernmental and government organizations. About one-third of the Habitat for Humanity offices in the region formed alliances with local governments to subsidize integral responses to family needs.
Habitat is making a difference in LAC, and you are invited to be a part of it. Thousands of individuals have made an impact in Latin America and the Caribbean through the Global Village program, contributing to the house building efforts as they learn about LAC’s culture and deepen their understanding of the unique issues faced in countries throughout the region.
LAC by the numbers
- More than 136 million poor people lived in LAC countries in 1980; this number rose to 204 million in 1997.
- One of the most notable trends in Latin America and the Caribbean over the past 40 years has been the movement of the poor from rural to urban areas and the ensuing growth of informal housing settlements in cities. Seventy-five percent of the total population of Latin America currently lives in urban areas, compared with less than 50 percent forty years ago.
- Ten to 15 million households in Latin America live in substandard housing, and the deficit in adequate housing continues to grow. While the annual increase in demand is 2.5 million dwellings, only 1.5 million dwellings are added to the housing stock each year.
Please note: Proposals for LAC trips should be submitted no less than six and no more than nine months prior to departure. Due to the LAC area’s hosting capacity and volume, this timeline ensures our team can best support you in the Global Village trip planning process.
“I had never traveled internationally before. It was an amazing, eye-opening experience to see a new part of the world and just begin to see how other cultures live. I cannot wait to travel internationally again—with Global Village!”
—Global Village participant