Habitat for Humanity Mexico
Habitat's work in Mexico
Housing need in Mexico
Although Mexico has a strong economy; more than half of the Mexican population currently does not have economic means for buying or constructing adequate housing. Of the employed population (about one third of Mexicans), 7 million earn less than the minimum wage. Ten million make less than two minimum wages a day. This means that more than half of Mexico’s employed population makes US$30 dollars a month or less, yet these workers support half of the nation’s families.
Government estimates state that one million families live in substandard housing, but these calculations do not include the many families who rent rooms or live cramped inside another family member’s home, as do many of the families that Habitat for Humanity serves. When considering these families, Habitat for Humanity Mexico estimates that the housing need rises to a staggering two million families, or about 10 million people.
Habitat for Humanity in Mexico
In 1988, Habitat for Humanity began working in the communities of Dexthi Alberto, Chihuahua, and San Pedro Capula, Hildago. Once it was legally constituted as a Civil Organization in 1990, it developed a more extensive presence that today covers 17 states and is one of the largest Habitat programs in all of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Habitat México builds in rural, semi-urban and urban areas. The average house is completed in roughly three weeks, measuring between 42 to 49 m². In compliance with urban housing code requirements, Habitat houses in cities measure the minimum 60 m² and have electrical and plumbing installations.
Construction materials vary from region to region. In order to reduce the cost of the homes, Habitat Mexico utilizes local materials whenever possible. Roofs may be built with galvanized zinc or reinforced concrete, and walls consist of clay bricks, adobe or concrete blocks. Materials also vary depending on the area’s climate and susceptibility to earthquakes and hurricanes.
Habitat for Humanity Mexico supports several initiatives, in addition to traditional home construction.
Leveraging government subsidies: In this project, Habitat Mexico channels housing subsidies for low income families from federal, state, and municipal agencies. While Mexico suffers a massive housing deficit (4.3 million), the government also has significant resources to address it: US $5.8 billion over the next five years. However, the government can only channel its support as donated building materials directly to the families, resulting in a 2% success rate. In a pilot phase from 2006-2007, Habitat Mexico provided social and technical assistance to the program, raising the success rate to 95%.
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 Citigroup. 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 HFHM or other organizations.
Home improvement: As well as the continued construction of traditional Habitat model homes, Habitat for Humanity Mexico also works in large scale on the improvement of existing homes. These improvements include: roofs, floors, windows, doors, bathrooms, kitchens, etc.
Health improvement: Many of Habitat Mexico’s programs address health risks as a crucial and intentional side-effect of home improvement. In the projects “Grupdesec” and “Alternativas”, Habitat Mexico built septic tanks for the treatment and storage of water. The “Sanut” project provided fuel-efficient stoves, in order to reduce the amount of smoke inhalation from cooking. In another project, antibacterial floors and dry latrines were assembled in partnership with the Government of Aguascalientes and the community.
Complete houses: In addition to the projects above, Habitat for Humanity Mexico 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.