Latin American housing forum to explore links between housing, health and economies

Habitat for Humanity International CEO, UN-Habitat executive director and Costa Rican president headline virtual version of region’s leading housing forum May 17-21

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (May 10, 2021) Amid a pandemic that has increased poverty and worsened a global housing crisis, more than 2,000 people are expected to attend the fourth Latin American and Caribbean Housing Forum, which is being held virtually May 17-21. Participants will have an opportunity to engage with experts to evaluate the status of safe, affordable housing in the region — focusing on its importance to health, overall wellbeing and economic recovery — and discuss solutions for creating more affordable housing.

“More than a fifth of the world’s population lacks decent and safe housing, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the need. Latin America and the Caribbean have been especially hard hit by economic distress and unemployment,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “A deep willingness to actively help shape the world around us for the better has always been a hallmark of Habitat. Together, through engagement like this, we will not only weather the unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic but forge ahead smarter and stronger.” 

The Latin American and the Caribbean Housing Forum features a wide cross-section of expert speakers representing local and regional governments, financial institutions, academia and other nonprofit organizations covering topics including financial innovations for economic recovery, sustainable and inclusive settlements, and resilient urban recovery, among others. 

One topic of great interest is the critical role inclusive housing initiatives play in economic recovery plans in a region where, according to the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean, another 22 million people were pushed into poverty in 2020, bringing the total to 209 million people. A recent Habitat for Humanity report, titled Cornerstone of Recovery, found that housing is often an overlooked contributor to Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, in emerging economies, accounting for up to 16.1% of GDP on average across the 11 countries studied in the report, including Brazil, Mexico and Peru.

Featured speakers include Maimunah Mohd Sharif, executive director of the United Nations Human Settlement Programme, or UN-Habitat; Carlos Alvarado, the president of Costa Rica; Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC executive secretary; and Habitat’s CEO Jonathan Reckford. Finalists of the 2021 Urban Housing Practitioners Hub contest, who are competing in the technological innovations, inspirational practices and public policy categories, will also present at the forum. Contest awards are sponsored by the Hilti Foundation, Whirlpool Corporation and Habitat for Humanity.

The forum is organized by Habitat for Humanity International, convened through the Urban Housing Practitioners Hub, and co-organized by the Inter-American Union for Housing, or Uniapravi. Dozens of organizations, including Cities Alliance, UN-Habitat, the World Bank, along with national housing ministries and corporations, plan and conduct the forum, with lead financial sponsorship provided by the Hilti Foundation and Whirlpool Corporation.

More information, including how to register, is available on the forum’s website. The event is part of a series of housing forums in 2021 that will include the fourth Europe Housing Forum in November and the eighthAsia-Pacific Housing Forum in December.

About Habitat for Humanity

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity found its earliest inspirations as a grassroots movement on an interracial community farm in south Georgia. Since its founding in 1976, the Christian housing organization has grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit