The Urban Poor Build Customized, Sustainable Homes
Haidy Duque, one of Colombia’s most celebrated serial social entrepreneurs, has a new project: she is helping the urban poor build customized, affordable homes from environmentally sustainable materials.
Duque is an Ashoka Hybrid Value Chain Fellow. Her organization, Por Una Vivienda Digna, has improved the lives of thousands since 2004 by providing impoverished communities with access to credit, technical assistance, and personalized financial education to strengthen budget planning processes for both individuals and families.
Duque’s past experience includes launching initiatives designed mange intense group conflict and violence, and using information technology to promote development and prosperity. She is now mixing it up in the urban development field by entering the Changemakers Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating for Liveable and Inclusive Cities competition.
“Our objective is to provide access to dignified sustainable housing and mitigate the effect of global warming by offering technical assistance to the families,” Duque said. “By using ecological construction techniques and applying professional expertise to the process, we create comfortable, light-filled houses that take into account of the entire family and help it raise its standard of living.”
Por Una Vivienda Digna’s programs have been replicated across Colombia’s largest cities, including Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena and Pereira. Already, her project has allowed impoverished families to rebuild or remodel 30,000 homes, producing a transformative effect on their communities: creating a sense of place, belonging, and opportunity.
Her innovative housing process includes easy financing in the form of micro-loans; community participation and consultancy; and custom, personalized designs built from environmentally sustainable materials. To manage risk and prevent defaults, citizens must participate in an interview process with program promoters.
The interview results are then forwarded to a financial entity for review. The promoters also act as community advisors, helping their neighbors set-up credit payment plans and and advising them how to improve their homes, little by little.
“A family’s number one goal is to improve the quality of existing housing structures,” Duque said. “Pro Vivienda empowers families with both the capital and the means to better their lives, without having to readjust their other economic commitments.”
The success of Duque’s Pro Viviendia has literally changed the look of Colombia’s sustainable urban housing market. But more importantly, her efforts have made a world of difference to many marginalized, low-income families across the country.
“A comfortable home improves self esteem, as well the relationships among all family members, protecting them from violent situations that they might otherwise experience in the streets,” Duque said.
Join Duque in helping to build more livable and inclusive cities. Submit your solution, or nominate a project, from now until February 11, 2011. Three winners will win US $10,000 to scale their initiatives.
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