Habitat for Humanity works toward our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live in multiple ways.
We work with families to construct, rehabilitate and preserve homes. We advocate to improve access to decent and affordable shelter. Through our market development efforts, we help to address the barriers that keep people from accessing decent housing and work with local firms, entrepreneurs and the public sector to expand and improve services so that low-income households can improve their shelter more effectively. And, in many locations around the world, we offer legal help, financial literacy training, and construction advice and training.
Acam Rose lives in Eastern Uganda with her six children. Their mud-and-grass-thatched hut with a door made of iron-roof sheeting provided little protection.
When Rose began exploring a partnership with Habitat to build a new home, it became clear that a decent house wasn’t the only thing she lacked: Rose had no legal claim to the land on which her hut sat. The land she hoped would become the site for her new home was owned by her late husband’s family. Habitat could not build until Rose’s legal right to the property was established.
Her predicament is all too common. Most women in Uganda encounter property inheritance challenges when their spouses die, leaving them without secure tenure — or the ability to live in a home without threat of eviction. Many widows lack knowledge of inheritance laws, and still more lack the resources to contest in court.
Habitat Uganda offers training in succession planning and inheritance rights as a means of empowering widows and, in the case of Rose, forming a legal foundation for improving their housing.
With training and counsel from successful Habitat homeowners, Rose was able to assert her right to part of the family land, paving the way for a new Habitat home.
Today, her family lives in a sturdy, safe, affordable home. In addition to inheritance rights training, Rose learned about the legal parameters surrounding home and property ownership. And she has written a will and a memory book with an eye toward protecting her children’s inheritance rights and ensuring stability even after she is gone.
Financial literacy training
Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, a Habitat financial literacy program supported by Citi Foundation has yielded solid returns. More than 17,000 families now have the tools and training necessary to better manage their household finances by developing a family budget, planning for emergencies, creating savings plans for home improvements and organizing remittances received from family members living abroad.
Financial education is a core component of Habitat’s overall housing and community development efforts in Nicaragua, for example, and is incorporated into all building and home improvement projects. As participants apply lessons learned to their real-life experiences, many invest their newly gained knowledge in ways that benefit their families for the long term.
“When I did my list of expenses, I couldn’t believe how much I was spending on soda,” says Managua resident Noelia Caleros. “That money could be spent on my children’s education.”
Caleros says she has learned to better organize her expenses, saving resources to meet more pressing needs like housing, education and health care.
Construction advice and training
Technical assistance is a critical component in helping an area build back better and stronger after any natural disaster.
Shortly after Typhoon Haiyan devastated parts of the Philippines in November 2013, Habitat began distributing shelter repair kits and offering basic construction training to help families repair their damaged homes.
On Nov. 23, Cecille Du, a civil engineer with the Philippine government’s Department of Social Welfare and Development, was on hand for Habitat’s first shelter repair kit distribution in Daanbantayan, the northernmost municipality on the island of Cebu in the Philippines.
About 240 people learned construction basics, ranging from how to brace a house against future storms to how to properly hammer nails when installing a roof. Habitat Philippines printed large posters that consisted mostly of images — easily understood in any language.
Such training empowers disaster survivors to make the most of Habitat’s shelter repair kits, which contain plywood, lumber, galvanized iron sheets, a hammer, a saw and nails. As part of Habitat’s long-term response to Haiyan, some 30,000 shelter repair kits will be distributed in the Philippines, and thousands more families will learn how to build their homes back better and stronger than before.