Influential Leaders In The Low-Cost Housing Industry To Present Best Practices And Partnership Opportunities
PHILIPPINES, 6th August 2009: Building on the success of the inaugural meeting, Habitat for Humanity International is organizing the 2nd Asia-Pacific Housing Forum, in cooperation with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, to be held at the Dusit Thani Manila Hotel in Makati City from 7th to 9th September 2009.
This year’s forum revolves around the theme, “Maximizing Urban Poverty Housing Solutions for Greater Results.” It gathers major stakeholders from the social, private and public sectors, academe and international organizations to share best practices, solutions and resource needs for the large and growing number of people living in substandard housing environments.
“More than half a billion people live in urban slums across the Asia-Pacific region and the drift to towns and cities is continuing. The poverty associated with crowded, unsanitary, unsafe living conditions is a major challenge for the 21st century,” said Rick Hathaway, Asia-Pacific vice president of Habitat for Humanity International.
“The first Asia-Pacific Forum, held in Singapore in 2007, showed the value of bringing together shelter specialists from very different backgrounds to learn from each other. In Manila, the focus will be on the specific issues faced by the urban poor and practical ways to alleviate the burden of slum conditions.”
The forum presents opportunities for forging joint partnerships in housing projects, as potential sources of housing finance, cost efficient technologies, and social entrepreneurs are brought together by this event.
Internationally acclaimed speakers and leading experts in housing concerns to share insights at the forum, include: Dr. Nicolas P. Retsinas from the Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University, U.S. a., with a plenary presentation on “Housing Policy: How to Meet the Needs of the Poor” – Retsinas is a former board chair of Habitat for Humanity International.
Among other speakers are Bruce Ferguson, former urban economist of the World Bank and member of the Advisory Board of Global Urban Development, on the plenary topic “A Value Chain Approach to Affordable Housing: The Key to Massive Scale”; Graham Saunders, head of the shelter department at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva, Switzerland, to speak on “Linking Disaster Response with Sustainable Development”; and Huub Cornelissen, director on energy and housing, The Netherlands Development Finance Company, to present the organization’s initiatives in housing finance for the poor.
From the Philippines, deputy governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will talk on the BSP’s role in supporting housing microfinance in the banking sector.
Philippine Vice President Noli de Castro, who is also the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, will be the guest of honor and will deliver the keynote address.
The three-day forum is structured in a manner to maximize dialogue, interaction and networking among participants. The forum’s plenary sessions and discussion groups will focus on four themes: (1) innovations in housing the urban poor; (2) rethinking disaster response; (3) UNESCAP Quick Guides on Housing the Poor; and (4) a “Leaders of Tomorrow Meet Leaders of Today”.
The latter is a unique feature of the forum. Student leaders from all over Asia and the Pacific will have the opportunity to study housing issues and discuss ideas and solutions with forum speakers and housing specialists. Speakers such as Hennie Botes of Moladi and George Modrovic of ELFI Wall System will also be present to discuss efficient housing technologies.
Housing developers, microfinance institutions, local governments, and academics are encouraged to attend the 2nd Asia-Pacific Housing Forum. For more information and for online registration, please log on to http://www.aphousingforum.org . You may also contact the Secretariat at 2APHFSecretariat@habitat.org.ph  or at (632) 897 3356 or 897 3069 loc. 107.
About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is a global non-governmental organization that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in the USA in 1976, Habitat has built and rehabilitated more than 300,000 houses in dozens of countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.5 million people with homes they helped build and which they have paid for with affordable, non-profit loans. For more information, please visit www.habitat.org/asiapacific 
About Habitat for Humanity Philippines
Habitat for Humanity Philippines, is a non-profit Christian Ministry that helps build responsible and self-reliant communities by enabling Filipino families in need to acquire affordable, decent and durable homes. It also partners with organizations, institutions and individuals in transforming lives and promoting people’s dignity through building homes and conducting community development programs.
Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat for Humanity builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of homeowner families. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit, financed with affordable, inflation-adjusted mortgage loans. The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments go into a local revolving fund and are used to build more Habitat houses. In addition to monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest their own labor – “sweat equity” – into building their Habitat house and the houses of others, increasing the pride of ownership and fostering the development of positive relationships within a community.
To date, Habitat for Humanity Philippines has helped rebuild the lives of over 24,000 families and built over 200 school classrooms nationwide.