Homeowner house portrait Nepal

Housing products and services

Facilitating and advising housing market actors

We work with numerous market actors within housing market systems by supporting local firms and expanding innovative and client-responsive services, products and financing so that low-income households can improve their shelter more effectively and efficiently.

Our strategy focuses on financial inclusion and housing market systems and entrepreneurship, addressing both the supply and demand sides of housing market systems. Through market evaluations, we are able to advise firms on the needs of the homeowners in their markets and on the design of products and services to meet these needs in a sustainable way.

Supply and demand of housing market systems, Habitat for Humanity

Financial inclusion

Housing microfinance

One of the key focus areas of our work is on affordable housing finance. The people we help commonly engage in building, repairing and improving their shelter on an incremental basis. They will gradually accumulate supplies until they are able to initiate each stage of the project. The work may start and stop as resources are available.

Through housing microfinance products, families are able to obtain funds for the purchase of construction materials to complete their projects in a shorter time frame than if they were doing it as their own resources become available. Families may also obtain funds for the purchase of other housing elements such as solar panels, sanitation solutions, etc. Housing microfinance products reduce the risk of loss a homeowner faces and hasten the benefits of affordable housing, which include improved health, education and a sense of security.

The Terwilliger Center advises financial institutions on the design, implementation and expansion of housing finance products and services, especially, housing microfinance products. Services offered by the Terwilliger Center include:

  • Product design, from market assessment to pilot plan, implementation and monitoring.
  • Development of nonfinancial housing support service models that contribute to enhanced quality of the building and/or shelter improvement process.
  • Advising on startup financing for these products.

Through 2016, the Terwilliger Center has trained more than 850 practitioners in housing microfinance product development. It has also directly supported over 71 financial institutions in the development of housing microfinance products by providing or assisting with:

  • Market research.
  • Product design.
  • Pilot planning and implementation, including monitoring and evaluation.
  • Product review and refinement.
  • Expansion plans.

To learn more about housing microfinance, check out our articles and case studies on housing microfinance, look through the Housing Microfinance Handbook and read our flagship report, the State of Housing Microfinance.

“With the technical assistance of the Terwilliger Center, we developed a tangible and effective housing product that has improved the client’s quality of life, as they have acknowledged.”
— Norma Rosas, Microfinanzas PRISMA, Peru

Housing market systems and entrepreneurship

The people we help often lack access to adequate and affordable materials and services needed to build, repair and improve their shelter. These families often use sub-standard materials, designs and construction methods, resulting in more costly, inferior and unsafe housing.

Through our housing market systems approach, the Terwilliger Center influences the functioning of markets to better meet low-income families’ need for housing products and services by looking closely at the supply of housing and identifying gaps in the market that keep low-income households from accessing and using adequate and affordable construction solutions.

To address the underlying causes of these market failures, the Terwilliger Center provides support to private sector firms and other influential actors in the market to improve their ability to develop, market and distribute housing-related products and services which meet the needs of low-income families. This is carried out in multiple ways, including:

  • Helping firms adapt their products, marketing and sales channels to better meet household’s needs.
  • Providing support to the small and medium scale enterprises that larger firms source from or sell to in their supply chains.
  • Working with promising entrepreneurs and “small but growing businesses” that are bringing the next generation of housing products and services to the market.

Parallel to these efforts, the Terwilliger Center seeks to raise the level of performance of the housing market system at large, through strategies that enhance or change consumer behavior and improve building codes or local housing policies to make them more responsive to the under-served. We also seek to stimulate replication by other market players as a means of generating wider change within the market.

The Terwilliger Center’s support is structured in a way that leaves the market participants with ownership and responsibility for the initiatives so that the approaches are sustainable and do not rely on ongoing financial support. Working in this way, as a facilitator, and catalyzing changes in housing market systems results in more accessible, inclusive and resilient housing markets in the long-term.

Interested in working with us?

Connect with us by email at TCIS@habitat.org.

Habitat for Humanity International
Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter
270 Peachtree Street, NW
Suite 1300
Atlanta, GA 30303

Latin America and the Caribbean: LAC-TCIS@habitat.org

Europe, Middle East and Africa: EMEA-TCIS@habitat.org

Asia and the Pacific: AP-TCIS@habitat.org

Consultants: Send your CV to TCIS@habitat.org

Shelter solutions for people in sub-Saharan Africa

In partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, Habitat's Terwilliger Center is providing technical assistance to six leading financial institutions in Uganda and Kenya to develop housing microfinance products and services to serve people living on less than US$5 per day.

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MicroBuild Fund

Directing investment capital to the housing sector is an important part of insuring that there is an adequate supply of housing products and related services in the market.

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