Colombia -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Colombian families living in substandard housing must battle overcrowding and often a lack of basic utilities.
This homeowner family put substandard housing behind them in favor of a simple, decent, affordable home.
Habitat for Humanity was established in Colombia in 1991, thanks to a teacher from a rural school in Quimbaya, Quindío, who became aware of the organization through a magazine article and requested the presence of the international organization in his county. In 1994, the construction of the first 28 houses began in the Los Cerezos de Quimbaya neighborhood.
Currently, HFH Colombia is governed by a voluntary national board of directors and has five branches in Eje Cafetero, Valle del Cauca, Antioquia, Norte del Cauca and Cundinamarca.
HFH Colombia strives to become an alternative for families with low incomes, promoting the construction of their own homes. Habitat for Humanity looks for support from the government, the private sector and civil society, especially young people.
The houses built by HFH usually measure 48m2 and consist of two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, a living-dining room and an area for drying clothes. They are designed to enable the construction of a second floor.
Cement blocks and concrete are the materials frequently used, in order to comply with Colombia’s seismic resistance code. The facade is built of compressed bricks and shingles. Every house is connected to the different public utility systems.
Habitat for humanity Colombia offers loans, micro-loans and support to the families in the application to the public housing subsidies. HFH also offers to Colombian families programs in finance literacy and healthy housing; HFH makes possible its projects thanks to the solidarity of our donors and volunteers all over the world.
More than 11.5 million homes in Colombia do not have satisfactory basic necessities. More than 40 percent of that figure represents inadequate housing and overcrowding, and another 20 percent experience problems with public utilities. Likewise, 9.8 percent of the country’s poor families live in poverty 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 deficit in housing 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 does not allow low-income families to live in adequate sanitary conditions, so they erect “cambuches” or tin huts without public services. This generates diseases 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 do not have a home that provides them with the stability required to enter an educational center. Usually school-age children are forced to work to contribute something to the family’s low income.
Location: South America
Climate: tropical along coast and plains; cooler in highlands
Economy: chief crop is coffee; also petroleum, coal, bananas, fresh cut flowers
Government: presidential republic
Literacy: 91 percent