- Families served in 2016: 7
- When the program started: 1996
- Families served: More than 70
- Volunteers hosted: More than 700 a year
- Housing Solutions: New builds, Rehabilitations and repairs
- Population: 10.8 million
- Urbanization: 63.5 percent live in cities
- Life expectancy: 79 years
- Unemployment rate: 13.9 percent
- Population living below poverty line: 18.7 percent
Find more country facts on: CIA The World Factbook – Portugal
Habitat for Humanity in Portugal
A group of volunteers concerned about poverty housing in Braga, in northern Portugal, started a Habitat affiliate there in 1996. Two groups of international and local volunteers helped build Portugal’s first Habitat house in the town of Vieira do Minho in 1999. In 2002, Habitat expanded its activities to renovating existing homes of low-income families. Habitat in Braga partners with local municipalities to build and rehabilitate homes for people living on small incomes.
The housing need in Portugal
Housing is a major concern of poor Portuguese families, who often live in dilapidated homes in rural areas or shacks in the big cities. Successive governments have liberalized key areas of the economy over the past 20 years after decades of military dictatorship, but economic growth has been slowing, especially after the 2008 crisis. Many people were left without jobs or savings to improve housing conditions.
At the same time, the need for housing is growing, especially in urban areas. The state cannot support the development of new social housing units. Portugal has been a destination for emigrants, mainly from former African colonies and Brazil.
How Habitat addresses the need
Habitat for Humanity in Portugal helps low-income families by building new homes on family-owned land and by renovating houses in the municipalities of Braga and Amarante. Homes are made of traditional local materials: bricks, red roof tiles, shutters on the windows, and ceramic tiles inside. Recently, the Habitat Portugal has been looking for local opportunities to raise funds to build more simple and decent homes.
Here is an example of a Habitat project in Portugal:
- Home construction with volunteer labor
The Habitat affiliate in Portugal is a lively example of an effective volunteering program. It attracts the enthusiasm of more than 300 volunteers a year. At the same time, local volunteers are showing their commitment to improving their communities by working on the construction sites. They are building homes in partnership with low income families.
- Working with companies
The affiliate also hosts corporate partner builds with such long-term Habitat supporters as Whirlpool and Thrivent Financial. Many international churches and women’s associations have also found Braga to be a prime building location. Some international affiliates also have worked with Habitat in Portugal.
- Working with international schools
Habitat Portugal works with international schools from Switzerland, Norway, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, UAE and Austria. Strong partnerships have been built with schools in Braga, Lisbon and Porto. Students come to build their teams and homes with poor families.
Meet a Habitat family
About a year ago, the Araújo family were evicted from their home and have been renting a house since then. Because of the unemployment crisis, Mr. Araújo had to move to France to find work, since his wife´s income was not enough to cover the family’s expenses. Habitat will help the family by renovating a house that was donated to them by other family members. The project will be supported by the municipality of Vila Verde. This couple has always dreamt of having their own home, and this way they will prevent situations like the eviction a year ago, providing the stability essential to the whole family. Together we will help this family make their dream come true, giving them decent and safe living conditions.
What you can do
You can help Portuguese families improve their living conditions by taking one or more of the following actions:
Volunteer: Join one of the scheduled Global Village trips to Portugal or lead your own.
Tithe: Establish a strong and rewarding tithe partnership to help build houses globally! Quote 813801, PORTUGAL on your checks sent to: Habitat for Humanity International, Attn: Affiliate Tithe, 121 Habitat St. Americus, GA 31709
To learn more about Habitat projects in Portugal or in other parts of the region, please contact us.
Habitat for Humanity Europe, Middle East and Africa
Connor Hanan, Associate Director of Operations