Forum on Adequate Housing in Latin America and the Caribbean launches in Medellín, Colombia

More than 250 participants from NGOs, governments, the private sector and academia will share their experiences during the Forum on Adequate housing in Latin America and the Caribbean this September. The Instituto de Vivienda de Medellín (ISVIMED) home improvement and repositioning project, a successful adequate housing model, will provide an example for the region.

MEDELLÍN, Colombia (August 18, 2012) – A volunteer build taking place today in Santo Domingo Savio de Medellín provides an ideal landscape to launch the first regional , scheduled to take place in Bogotá from September 25-28. The Forum will be a multi-sectorial event focused on defining practical and innovative solutions for ensuring access to adequate housing in sustainable and inclusive cities. Among the event organizers are Habitat for Humanity International, UN-HABITAT, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Minuto de Dios Corporation.

During the Forum, practical and innovative solutions that have proved to be effective in diverse countries of the world will be presented by select groups. The Forum will also pull together more than 250 participants from civil organizations NGOs, governments, the private sector and academia, as well as implementing practitioners of adequate housing solutions. This diversity of perspectives will set the stage for an active exchange of ideas, dialogue and interaction, promoting network creation and the formation of new cross-sectorial partnerships.

Volunteer buildAs a prelude to the September Forum, the organizing entities have come together for a volunteer construction event in Santo Domingo Savio, Medellín. The build is led by Habitat for Humanity Colombia, in partnership with the Municipality of Medellín and the . During the event, the Santo Domingo Savio community’s Granizal project will be presented, part of the city government’s housing improvement program. More importantly, the project will serve as Colombia’s model example of success during the Forum.

The volunteer build will include a visit from Aníbal Gavira, Mayor of Medellín and Diego Restrepo Isaza, Director of ISVIMED. A group of special invitees from the organizing entities will also be present.

A walk through the site, where volunteers have been hard at work since Monday, August 13, provides a quick glimpse into the work that the families has contributed, the scope of the housing improvement program and the potential of volunteerism as one way of expressing how every citizen can contribute to resolving housing issues.

Construction in the Granizal project is taking place on four homes. Each “home improvement” work group includes four volunteers, while groups of three work on new home constructions. Each team includes at least one partner family member and a Habitat for Humanity technical expert.

The volunteer teams help to advance Habitat for Humanity’s work in home construction and improvement, which aims to integrate and support what families are already doing to meet their own housing needs.

Today, local and international personalities such as CNN’s Glena Umaña, actor Nicolas Montero and Olivia Aristizábal, Antioqua representative for the National Beauty Pageant in Cartagena, will join the volunteers.

The ISVIMED home improvement program in Granizal, MedellínThe northeast area of Medellín, labeled “Comuna No. 1”, is primarily comprised of informal settlements that have been established since the 1950s. The city of Medellín has intervened in this area since the late 1980s, through neighborhood and urban improvement programs of different scales. Today, an effective and ever-evolving integration of public services, collective equipment, safety and mobility guarantees adequate conditions for the families who live there.

Continuing in these efforts, the city of Medellín, is currently moving forward via ISVIMED with a home improvement program in the community of Santo Domingo Savio, with the goal of improving the housing conditions of the lowest-income families. The project works through technical assistance and subsidies provided by a collection of entities, including Habitat for Humanity Colombia, which manages the 71 subsidies assigned to families in the Granizal area within the Santo Domingo Savio community.

“Through the volunteer build, and even more so in the upcoming Forum on Adequate Housing that will take place in Bogotá this September, our greatest challenge is to raise awareness among distinct sectors of society,” said Alejandro Florián, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity Colombia. “This will allow us to find real solutions for adequate, decent and inclusive housing for all those who, for one reason or another, migrate to cities in search of better opportunities.”

For more information about the Forum on Adequate Housing in Latin America and the Caribbean, please visit .

About the event organizers:

Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity International is a global Christian nongovernmental housing organization that brings together people of all races, nationalities and religions to build homes, communities and hope. Since 1976, Habitat has served more than 500,000 families by building and improving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. Habitat for Humanity first opened its doors in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in 1979, and has since helped more than 150,000 low-income families to access adequate housing in the region.

UN-HABITAT is a United Nations agency that promotes socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities in order to achieve adequate housing for all. It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, with a regional office for Latin America located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
IFRC is a humanitarian organization that focuses on promoting humanitarian values, disaster response, disaster preparedness and health and community care. It is comprised of 187 societies and a Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

Corporación El Minuto de Dios
Minuto de Dios is a non-governmental organization with over 53 years of experience, which carries out its mission by prioritizing the provision of adequate housing for the poor and promoting the comprehensive development of communities in Colombia by raising awareness and mobilizing resources from individual and national sources.