Brazil -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
A woman washes dishes outside the shack where her family lives.
Build site of the 35,000th Habitat house built within the Latin America/Caribbean region in Tres Rios, Brazil.
Habitat for Humanity Brazil began working with low-income families in 1992 in Belo Horizonte, in the state of Minas Gerais. However, since July 2005 the Head Quarter is operating in the Northeast region in the state of Pernambuco. This strategic decision was made aiming to attend the local demand because its housing deficit is higher than in the Southeast. HFH Brazil is currently working in more than 21 cities in eight Brazilian states: Ceará, Goiás, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul and Tocantins, assisting more than 3.000 families.
The program assists families with an income of up to three minimum wages, selected by a local committee based on the following criteria: housing need, payment capacity, availability to work on the construction of their own house and to participate in the training process.
The key to HFH’s success in building houses lies in the community’s collaboration in the construction, which reduces costs and increases productivity, as well as the partners’ overall commitment and involvement. Habitat houses are built thanks to the help of different members of the community, including socially responsible companies with corporate volunteer programs, the government, local businesses, churches, schools, other NGOs, community volunteers and future homeowners.
Nowadays, Habitat for Humanity Brazil had constructed 3.090 houses. If we consider each home has 5 members, in accordance with Brazilian reality, we had already helped 15.450 persons to have a decent home to live in.
The house model, which may be 48 square meters to 57 square meters, is defined together with the partner family, always respecting the goal of building a simple, decent and economical house.
In many regions, houses are built using the area’s most common method (cement, sand, brick, steel) and its costs are estimated between US$ 6000 and US$ 7500, including social work investments. The families have up to 72 months to pay monthly installments between US$ 20 and US$ 70. Besides, we can approve another loan to the families expand or remodel their houses, but it needs early evaluation of the project.
The figures concerning the housing situation in Brazil are staggering. In a recent note, Mr. Edesio Fernandez, a Brazilian academic and former senior staff member of the Ministry of Cities of Brazil stated that about 83 per cent of Brazilians are reported to live in urban areas.
According to data from several sources, 26 million people living in urban areas do not have access to water; 14 million are not served by rubbish collection; 83 million are not connected to sewage systems.
The national housing deficit has been estimated at 7.2 million units; even more alarmingly, the number of existing vacant properties has been estimated at 5.5 million units.
The greatest needs are in the northeast and southeast areas. In the cities, conditions are worse, causing deterioration and an increase in urban overcrowding.
It is estimated that more than 50 million people live in inadequate conditions. Most of these families have an income below three minimum wages (minimum wage = R$ 350 = $USD 150).
Location: South America
Climate: mostly tropical; temperate in south
Economy: natural resources are a main, long-term strength; world's largest producer and exporter of coffee and orange juice concentrate; second largest exporter of soybeans
Government: federal republic
Religion: predominantly Christian
Literacy: 83 percent