Habitat for Humanity Colombia
Habitat's work in Colombia
Housing need in Colombia
Inadequate housing, overcrowding and insufficient utilities such as water and sanitation are all contributors to the housing problem in Colombia. More than 11.5 million homes in Colombia do not satisfactorily meet the basic necessities of the families that live in them. More than 40 percent of that figure represents inadequate housing and overcrowding, while another 20 percent demonstrates problems with public utilities. Likewise, 9.8 percent of the families suffering from poverty find themselves in this situation due to inadequate housing, and 10.6 percent due to inadequate utilities.
The rural housing deficit has increased in recent years, due to a lack of new programs. Colombia’s qualitative housing deficit (that is, houses that exist but are inadequate in their conditions) is currently in the vicinity of 900,000 units, out of which 200,000 are located in rural zones. That deficit has increased in the last five years, since the financing of possible solutions has become so difficult through typical lending institutions.
The housing shortage in Colombia prevents adequate sanitary conditions for many low-income families, so they erectcambuches or tin huts, without public services. This promotes disease, such as dengue, which arises from stagnant water due to a lack of sewers. Inadequate housing also affects children’s education; many cannot go to school because they lack a home that provides them with the stability required to enter an educational center. In addition, many school-age children are forced to work, in order to contribute something to the family’s income.
Habitat for Humanity in Colombia
Habitat for Humanity was established in Colombia in 1991, when a teacher from a rural school in Quimbaya, Quindío, became aware of the organization through a magazine article. Three years later, the construction of the first 28 houses began in the Los Cerezos de Quimbaya neighborhood.
Habitat Colombia is governed by a national board of directors, and has five branches: Eje Cafetero, Valle del Cauca, Antioquia, and the north of Cauca and Cundinamarca.
Habitat for Humanity Colombia strives to become an alternative for low income families, helping families to build and improve their own homes. Habitat Colombia seeks support and partnership from government, the private sector and civil society—especially young people.
Habitat for Humanity Colombia supports several initiatives, in addition to traditional home construction.
Healthy housing in San Andres: In November 2008, Phase II of this Healthy Housing in San Andres was approved. In addition to housing improvements for 305 families, the project also aims to decrease the risk of illness by improving access and management of potable water, adequately managing sewage waste, and implementing a “healthy home” educational program.
Government subsidies for housing: A significant cause for growth in housing numbers between 2007 and 2008 can be attributed to the effective utilization of government subsidies–for both new house constructions as well as repairs and improvements. Habitat programs are seeking to make good use of these subsidies by ensuring high-quality constructions for families, as well as efficient operations, so as to make best use of the limited resources. Habitat for Humanity Colombia is one of the four national organizations that have received consultants to help assess their subsidy-funded programs, and three of these are financing growth with loans from Habitat International.
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 Colombia 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.