Remitting Sustainable Housing

Remitting Sustainable Housing

Dominican Republic
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Our project will enable Dominican immigrants in the city of Lawrence to send remittances to their home country through a cost effective mechanism that also supports sustainable housing.
The transaction costs of sending remittances to Latin America vary from 2.5 to 19 percent, draining resources for basic necessities. We propose to reduce transaction costs by sending a portion of the money directly to a housing construction company at a low exchange rate. This company would then produce environmentally sustainable housing with cost-saving amenities such as improved insulation for heating/cooling, a solar hot water heater, waste water reuse, and solar panels for lighting. This would reduce costs for families initially as well as in the long-run.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Family members of migrants living abroad will benefit from this project. They will be able to create affordable, environmentally friendly housing and save money to invest in other assets. Migrants in the U.S. will also benefit as they will lose less money when transferring funds. This project will also ensure that their money is spent as they choose. The project is critical as it provides migrants with a safe and cost effective way to remit funds back to their home countries. It also allows residents to save money over time as it will reduce energy and water costs.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Every year, migrants in the U.S. send home remittances to support food, clothing, enterprises and housing. Much of that money is lost due to transaction fees and in some cases, misspent by family members. One way to reduce the amount lost is to send the money directly to develop the asset i.e. a house. CEMEX in Mexico has developed a program called Construmex to allow residents in the U.S. to send their remittances directly to the construction company to support housing in Mexico. In the first two years of the program, CEMEX helped 4,500 migrants in the U.S. build homes in Mexico. In 2005, the program generated approximately $3.8 million in revenue. As of 2008, this program had ended due to limited resources during the financial crisis. We propose a project in the Dominican Republic that will allow residents in the U.S. (from Lawrence, MA) to send remittances to a construction company in the Dominican Republic at a reduced cost. The added value is that we are also incorporating energy efficient building materials, solar water heaters, waste water reuse systems and solar lighting in the design of the homes. By sending money directly to the company, this will reduce transactions cost initially. Through the inclusion of the environmentally sustainable components, this project will reduce costs over time and give families added income for other uses such as starting an enterprise or providing additional education for their children.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

This project is only an idea, so its success has not yet been measured. However, we plan to evaluate success by the short and long term savings of the migrants and their families, the number of new homes built and under construction, the number of families affected by the project, the number of homes planned, the number of homes that have been completely paid off, increases in the size of the house, and other amenities added to the home, among other measures.
About You
Organization:
Institute for International Urban Development
About You
First Name

Kendra

Last Name

Leith

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Institute for International Urban Development

Organization Phone

617-492-0077

Organization Address

2235 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

Organization Country

, MA, Middlesex County

Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Idea phase

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

The Institute promotes sustainable urban and regional development through its technical assistance, research and training programs. Our organization has an interest in sustainable affordable housing in urban areas (primarily in countries outside of the United States) as well as research on migration and remittances. We have also completed several research studies on migration/remittances in countries Latin America and Africa. However, we have recently started to expand our activities to cities in the U.S. We would like to create a unique program to provide sustainable urban housing in countries abroad, while establishing a connection with urban areas in the United States. The founders, Kendra Leith and Jim Kostaras have experience in community development in cities in New England.

Social Impact
How many people have been impacted by your project?

Fewer than 100

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

101‐1000

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

-Financial sustainability-We will overcome this challenge with grants from foundations, support (financial and in-kind) from the construction companies through their corporate social responsibility programs, as well as NGOs such as the Green Building Council, but the migrants and their families will pay for most of the housing themselves with their remittances.
-Coordination-finding construction companies that are willing to undertake such a venture-Working with organizations like the Green Building Council, we will be able to connect with construction companies more easily.
Maintenance of housing and amenities-We will train residents in the community to help install, construct and maintain the buildings and the associated technologies.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

We will start by contacting the Dominican Republic Green Building Council, which is promoting green building in the Dominican Republic.
We will contact construction companies that may be interested in participating in the program.
We will start to facilitate connections between families in Lawrence, the construction company, the Green Building Council and the families in the Dominican Republic.
We will apply for initial seed funding.
Working with the families and the construction company, we will develop the layout for the homes and start construction.
We will evaluate the impact of our project (based on number of homes constructed, families affected, reduction of costs for sending remittances, quality of homes as evaluated by the residents, energy cost reduction, etc.)

Sustainability
For each selection, please explain the financial and non-financial support from each
How do you plan to grow and/or diversify your base of support in the next three years?

Our project is not currently funded, but we plan to target foundations, businesses, NGOs and national government in the Dominican Republic. We will also garner support from the corporate social responsibility department of construction companies. Partnerships with the Dominican government, NGOs involved in green building initiatives and companies in the Dominican Republic and U.S. will be critical for financial and political support. We may also target remittance sending customers for a small fee to help support the program, provided that it does not increase their fees significantly. Most of the housing construction will be directly supported by remittances from the migrants.

Collaboration
Please select your areas of intervention in the home improvement market

Financing, Design, Technical assistance, Water, Energy conservation, Renewable energy, Green housing, Environment, Income generation, Urban development, Citizen/community participation.

Is your innovation addressing barriers in the home improvement/progressive housing market? If so, please describe in detail your mechanisms of intervention
Are you currently collaborating with private companies, or have you partnered with private companies in the past? With which companies?

No, we have not partnered with any private companies yet.

Please describe in detail the nature of the partnership(s)
Select the unit(s) with which the partnership was formed