Living in a flimsy shack likely to collapse with a well-placed kick is no way for children to grow and thrive. Since its inception in 1982, Food For The Poor has been helping families living in poverty by building safe, secure homes. Thanks to our generous donors, we have completed more than 93,600 homes for impoverished families.
Today, we are taking housing solutions to a new level by empowering communities to lift themselves out of poverty. By building sustainable housing that offers safe shelter and constructing these homes in sustainable community developments, we ensure that entire villages reap the benefits and break the cycle of poverty.
Housing problems confronted by impoverished families
For many impoverished families living in the countries where Food For The Poor helps, providing safe shelter for their children is too daunting a challenge. Oftentimes, they are forced to assemble a house built from scrap wood and tin sheets, or whatever materials they can find. These hazardous structures barely provide shelter from the elements. Lack of adequate shelter and sleeping in damp conditions sickens children, compounding families’ misery.
The United Nations 2022 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index explored the various implications of poverty, including the challenge of housing. According to the report, “A household is considered deprived if the dwelling’s floor is made of mud/clay/earth, sand or dung; or if the dwelling has no roof or walls or if either the roof or walls are constructed using natural materials such as cane, palm/trunks, sod/mud, dirt, grass/reeds, thatch, bamboo, sticks or rudimentary materials such as carton, plastic/polythene sheeting, bamboo with mud/stone with mud, loosely packed stones, uncovered adobe, raw/reused wood, plywood, cardboard, unburnt brick or canvas/tent.”
Many families whom Food For The Poor helps live in such conditions. To cover gaps in the walls of their homes, they plaster them with newspaper or cardboard. The floor is often the dirt below their feet, which turns to mud when the rain pours through the leaky roof. Some families have scoured through local garbage dumps to salvage sheets of rusty tin to construct roofs for their houses and old wood pieces to nail together for the walls.
These structures can easily collapse during a heavy windstorm. It’s not safe, but this is all they can afford. Food For The Poor seeks to give these families new life and new hope through safe and secure new homes.
Housing solutions for each country’s culture and climate
Food For The Poor adapts our housing construction to meet the needs of individual countries. In tropical Guyana, where some communities are frequently swamped due to severe flooding, we build homes on stilts.
“Guyana, particularly the coastal region where the majority of our homes are built, is prone to flooding as the coast is about five and a half feet below sea level at high tide,” said Andrea Benjamin, Senior Projects Manager for Food For The Poor-Guyana. “The stilts prevent floodwaters from entering the homes during the rainy season.”
In Jamaica, Food For The Poor amended the original housing model to increase structural durability and include kitchens with sinks and faucets and cupboards and an indoor bathroom with a curbless shower to accommodate residents with physical disabilities.
In Haiti, ravaged by hurricanes and earthquakes, we build concrete block homes. Since the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, Food For The Poor has built 13,136 homes in the country.
Even after homes are built, the problems caused by poverty remain. This concern was the impetus for the organization’s initiative to develop entire villages with the added benefit of giving families a supportive community in which to thrive.
How residents of a Honduran community are being helped
Sustainable community development now goes hand in hand with the dignity of living in a safe, secure home.
“Food For The Poor aims to foster communities where each household has the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and thrive,” said Alicia Narváez Martínez, Food For The Poor’s Product Development Manager for Sustainable Community Development.
One community in desperate need of safe new homes and self-sustaining development is in Las Barras, Honduras. The 263 men, women and children were living in an area affected by more than a few hurricanes and an earthquake. Families made their living from fishing and harvesting crops such as corn, grains, beans and rice. Whenever it rained, the area flooded, making the land useless for growing crops. Their homes literally became surrounded by wetlands and barely habitable.
Working with our partner organization CEPUDO in Honduras, Food For The Poor committed to moving the 76 families into a sustainable community development in Los Achiotes. The project, planned in phases from 2020 to 2025, was designed to improve their quality of life by not only providing sturdy, strong homes but making the community stronger through development.
Needs assessment and community development
Identifying the needs of the residents of Los Achiotes came first. Other steps were necessary to make the community self-sustaining. For example, the people needed a place to gather. A community center serves as a place where families meet socially, share information and attend worship services. The center also serves as a teaching center, a venue for self-help workshops on various topics for residents.
But the houses are the most essential part of the solution for families living in poverty. People need safe, sturdy homes in which to raise their families. Thanks to Food For The Poor, they are receiving sustainable housing and much more.
To donate to provide housing for those in need, please visit our website.