Unique low-cost housing programme expands to new continents

13th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

"The private sector has now taken on the challenge to help the 1.2 billion people in the world who live in slums."

   CANNES, France, March 13, 2008  - A unique programme to provide
housing for the poor will expand into Latin America, eastern Europe and
Africa, the foundation that operates it announced Wednesday.
   "The private sector has now taken on the challenge to help the 1.2 billion
people in the world who live in slums," Tim Wilkens of the New York-based
Global Housing Foundation (GHF) told reporters at the international MIPIM real
estate trade show in Cannes on the French Riviera.
   Non-profit GHF works in partnership with the United Nations Human
Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) and financial management giant Merrill
   "In 2008, GHF and our partners are already committed to developing some
26,000 homes in Central America," said Wilkins.
   "Today, we are launching the initiative in Latin America, Africa and
eastern Europe, where we hope to start providing affordable homes for some
several hundred thousand people later in 2008 and 2009."
   The foundation chose to make the announcement at the trade show, where
high-end development plans are showcased, as part of a push to attract more
investors, said Julian Josephs, who heads international real estate industry
federation FIABCI, which supports GHF.
   The programme targets one-third of the world's slum dwellers who already
have jobs, which provide the income to pay back home loans. They are often
faced with paying high rents to slum landlords, GHF members say.
   Depending on the home cost and design, monthly repayments for the new
dwellings should range from 55 dollars (36 euros) to 120 dollars.
   All houses will have clean running water, a waste system and electricity,
GHF said. The average cost of the three- to four-room houses will range from
2,000-3,000 dollars each in Africa to 15,000 dollars per unit in Panama.
   GHF will work with local property developers, builders, banks, local
administrations and UN-HABITAT to build or renovate the low-cost housing,
which it expects will boost job creation locally.
   The programme also seeks to advance women's rights by insisting on the
property being in the name of a female member of the family.
   Around 20 percent of emerging countries don't allow women the right to be
on a property title, Wilkens said.


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