Habitat for Humanity Chile
Habitat's work in Chile
Housing need in Chile
Chile is a highly urbanized country, with roughly 86 percent of its 16.4 million residents living in urban areas. In 2001, 9 percent of the urban population is considered to suffer slum conditions, up from 4 percent in 1990. (UNdata) This situation has been further worsened by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the country on February 27, 2010.
Since 1906, Chile’s government has been involved in low-cost housing solutions, typically in the form of subsidies. In the 1970’s, the government made a drastic cut to the state spending on housing, resulting in a housing deficit that the country is still in efforts to overcome. In 1990, the Aylwin government increased funds for housing by 50% and made public housing programs more available to the low-income sectors in an attempt to freeze the existing deficit. (Rex A. Hudson ,ed. Chile: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1994)
Within this context, Habitat Chile’s principal success, and main source of funding, has been through ongoing partnerships with government programs. These partnerships combine established housing subsidies with Habitat’s technical assistance programs and creative housing solutions. With additional support and leadership from organizations such as Habitat, government housing and subsidy programs successfully encourage low-income sectors to obtain legal property through formal channels, creating a more secure foundation for each family’s future.
Habitat for Humanity in Chile
In 1998, a network of local residents and international stakeholders recognized the need for an organization that would address the challenges of inadequate housing conditions in Chile. Thanks to support from Habitat for Humanity International, the organization established official legal status in 2001, and by March of 2002 the first three homes were built in Caldera.
Habitat Chile has assisted over 3,500 families to obtain adequate housing. There are Habitat projects in each of the five regions of the country (Antofagasta, Valparaíso, Región Metropolitana, Maule, Bio Bio and Araucanía).
Habitat for Humanity Chile supports several initiatives, in addition to traditional home construction.
Building homes without borders: This project addresses the situation of 200 low-income families living in precarious housing conditions and in urgent need of a solution. These families cannot access credit nor government subsidies. The project engages businesses, volunteers, partner organizations and the community to build new, basic, homes as an immediate shelter solution, and to provide families with financial education for the long-term future.
“Kimun Ruka”: As a result of projects focusing on the native peoples of the region, 75 indigenous Mapuches in the fifth and eight regions of Chile now own homes that both improve their living conditions and respect their aesthetic traditions. “Kimun Ruka”, in the Mapuche language, means “knowledge and wisdom of living.” Through collaboration with Mapuche architects and tribal authorities, this project aims to revive the construction designs and techniques of the Mapuche people.
Bring our children home: Children with life-threatening illnesses in Chile are often permanently relocated to facilities with the professionally-recommended living conditions for the medical attention they need. In cases where the children remain in the home, inadequate housing conditions can put the effectiveness of their medical treatment at risk. In response, Habitat Chile is construction bedroom home-additions and improvements that comply with these standards, in order that they may continue medical treatment in a safe environment and under the care of their families.
Leadership school: This program provides local housing authorities the opportunity to directly participate in the learning process of their communities. The school has two graduating classes each year, with 35 facilitators and 600 families for each session. Classes emphasize savings and efficient administration of resources with specified family-oriented plans for housing, education, health and career development.
Financial education: This project is aimed at educating and accompanying partner families in the planning and administration of their home economy. The manuals and methodology used are the result of a project designed by Habitat for Humanity International and financed by Citi Foundation. Through a series of workshops, families learn to administer their income and expenses, and learn to design a budget, analyze and control their expenses, and follow a savings plan. Families are also informed about the risks and advantages of taking out loans with Habitat for Humanity or other organizations.
Complete houses: In addition to the projects above, Habitat for Humanity Chile continues to build complete homes. Homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor, helping to build their houses and the houses of others, together with volunteers. Their monthly payments go into a Local Rotating Fund, which allows the construction of new homes.
Learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean.