Save and Build Helps House the Poorest of the Poor
In some communities, poverty is so severe that even Habitat for Humanity houses are out of reach for families. And in some cultures, the concept of a mortgage is completely foreign and difficult for people to accept and embrace. To address the needs of communities like these, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka developed the Save and Build program.
Through Save and Build, homeowners are organized into groups of 12 families. Each family saves the equivalent of 15 cents (USD) per day for six months. During this time, homeowners also collect rocks and sandboth freely available throughout the countrysideand make their own bricks.
At the end of six months, the group's savings are sufficient to build one house, consisting of a single room with an attached kitchen and bathroom area. Within 27 months, all 12 families complete their houses. If they choose to continue with the Save and Build program, the families can then add an additional room to their houses by beginning the savings and brick-making process again.
An adaptation of the Save and Build program allows an individual family to pay for a foundation and roof at the beginning of construction. Then the family thatches the walls of the house with leaves, brush and grass until they can afford to purchase bricks or blockssometimes a few at a timeto construct permanent walls. The opportunity to purchase building supplies a little at a time, without the commitment of a mortgage, makes homeownership a more feasible reality for the Sri Lankan people.
I think the Save and Build model will eventually become the traditional approach to building in many of the poorer countries, says Steve Weir, vice president for Habitat for Humanity's Asia and the Pacific area. Weir sees potential for programs similar to the one in Sri Lanka to become vital in nations such as East Timor, Bangladesh and Nepal, as well as in impoverished countries in other areas of the world.
Save and Build is one means of reaching families in need through flexible mortgage structures and construction processes. By respecting the realities of local communities and working creatively within them, Habitat for Humanity can continue to grow and thrive, helping those who need it most.
Renovating Substandard Apartments into Decent Housing
In Beius, Romania, Habitat for Humanity purchased the fourth floor of a communist-era block apartment building. The Casa Noastra (Our Home) renovation project, led by the Habitat for Humanity Beius affiliate, also involves building a fifth floor atop the building.
Currently, the dormitory-style rooms of the building house families of three to five people, with as many as 50 people on a floor sharing a bathroom. The roof leaks, and water and heating are unreliable.
When renovations and additions are complete, 15 two-bedroom apartments and 10 one-bedroom efficiencieseach with water boilers and wood-burning stoveswill provide decent shelter for families.
This innovative approach to building can serve as a model for other affiliates, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, where substandard apartment blocks can be converted into affordable housing.