Rebuilding the World, One Home at a Time
There are few things better than coming home after a long day of work. Maybe you plop down on the couch and binge watch your favorite show. Maybe you prepare a hearty meal for you and your family. Maybe you spend time with your kids, help them with homework, or playfully chase them through the halls. Home is where we go to rest, to feel safe, and to be at ease. It’s where we find refuge, lay our children to bed, and store our most valuable and prized possessions.
For many millions of people all over the globe, no such reality exists. They live in inadequate or unsafe homes, if in one at all. The repercussions of living without a safe and sound home are broad and unrelenting, yet this is an issue that sees little attention from the world at large.
Worldwide, 1.6 billion people lack adequate homes. For many, this means living in structures not suited to withstand basic weather like wind or rain. About one in four people live in conditions that directly and negatively impact their health (poor or hazardous building materials) and safety (dangerous neighborhoods). 100 million people are entirely homeless, living on the streets or finding rural areas like fields and forests in which to camp.
Homelessness and inadequate housing is caused by a multitude of issues, the most prominent being poverty, treacherous weather, natural disasters, or political and violent conflicts.
Some regions of the world are known to see not just one or two devastations, but a combination of all.
Poverty, conflict, and continuous natural disasters have plagued Central and South America for decades. In 2017, central Mexico was hit with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, killing 370 people, and leaving 6,000 injured. In Mexico City alone, 44 buildings were toppled. Findings show that most of the damaged buildings were built in the 60s and 70s using poor structural materials.
Though the death and destruction left by the quake are horrendous, it also left thousands of people homeless. A final tally is not yet available due to it continuously rising.
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico just the day before, leaving it in absolute ruins. The death toll is still undetermined as well, and thousands remain without homes or even electricity.
And a few days before Maria, Hurricane Irma rampaged through the Caribbean. When natural disasters strike already impoverished communities, it is near impossible for them to regain their footing. What little money the government has is typically invested in rebuilding infrastructure, resulting in a complete neglect of residential homes and properties.
El Salvador, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Brasil, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Columbia have found themselves in elongated political turmoil for years, creating economic instability and in some cases destructive violence, leaving thousands of families in a state of their own turmoil, unable to establish homeownership.
In Central and South America alone, there are 132.1 million people in need of homes. Stress, depression, and hopelessness are just some of the effects of living in an unstable environment. If families are able to find housing, they are usually sacrificing another necessity to pay rent. They may go without heat, water, or electricity. Often food is sacrificed and can quickly become sparse.
For these reasons, we have chosen to partner with Habitat for Humanity, a global operation providing housing and assistance to the people who need it most.
Habitat for Humanity formally began in 1976, though founders Millard and Linda Fuller started their humanitarian housing work years prior. Habitat builds houses and homes, by utilizing volunteer labor, for communities and individuals in dire need of proper lodging. Mortgages are offered at no interest and are often steeply discounted by way of donation partnerships. They currently operate in over 70 countries, helping more than 9.8 million people improve their living conditions.
Owners of affordable homes are more likely to invest in education for themselves or their children and have better means to pursue financial stability. Safety is also realized to many who’ve never felt it in their own home. Children with a sound and safe home perform better at school and extracurricular activities, making them less susceptible to gangs, violence, and other delinquencies.
DollarFund believes everyone deserves a home. In this new year, help us in making more progress than the years before in providing safe, affordable housing to those who have lost it. It only costs you $1 a month to make this wish a reality. Join today if you haven’t, or share with your network if you’re already a member. Are you going to be one of the million this year?
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