Neighborhood Development from the Seed House
The main objective of the Neighborhood Development Program is to improve housing and habitat conditions in peripheral areas of urban centers in Argentina. This program promotes access to adequate housing by involving the families themselves, developing their skills, involving volunteers, and optimizing existing resources. The methodologies are constantly being reviewed and improved as we seek to develop building skills, financial capacity, and social stability in the families that are the key players in the process.
The reality of self-construction in neighborhoods where people seek their own housing solutions means that a house can take up to 20 years to be finished. Most of them with poor design and quality that worsen over time. Through the Neighborhood Development Program, the families that build acquire a loan, the skills and voluntary help to complete the seed house in a period ranging from 8 to 12 months. At the same time, social and economic vulnerability to natural risks and to various types of diseases associated with poor housing conditions is significantly reduced.
The families that finish their house with the support of HPHA received the preparation and resources according to the challenge: they know self-construction techniques and resource management and in some cases they are already planning the expansion of their homes. But especially, they are a testimony of collaborative and supportive work.
Within the Argentine economy, a large percentage of families are part of the informal housing market. These families must finance, manage and build houses through their own and scarce means. Habitat for Humanity Argentina has designed the seed house model for families that cannot access a loan for a complete house, but who in turn do not have homes that could be improved, or who currently live in very precarious houses. This opportunity allows them to build a suitable home through financially accessible phases and immediately improve their quality of life. This further reduces the time it takes for a family to build a complete home while also adding quality to the construction.
During its development, the project deploys a number of actions for a period of between two and six years. These actions are:
- Credits: families can access a credit without interest or earnings. Those interested are selected by a Selection Committee based on their need, their willingness to get involved and their ability to pay.
- Impact improvements: these are reforms that can generate a very big change and that ensure that one or more quality standards that did not exist in the house are met. Eg a bathroom.
- Revolving Fund: loan installment payments are destined to this Fund in order to serve more families.
- Associated work: in each of the neighborhoods where this project takes place, we create work networks with local organizations that are the ones who truly enhance the work we carry out.
- Educational spaces: social problems accompany the housing problems faced by families. For this reason, and with the aim of achieving long-term sustainable transformations, support is offered to families through training spaces on adequate housing issues, as well as interviews and accompaniment meetings before, during, and after the housing project.
- Volunteering: throughout its implementation, Habitat for Humanity Argentina involves volunteers who selflessly dedicate time to build hope and enhance capacities. One of the forms of volunteering is the “brigade” (groups of volunteers who assist in the construction of the houses themselves, collaborating side by side with the target families of the projects). These volunteers mobilize residents, achieving the effect of promoting community brigades to improve different aspects of the neighborhood.
- Community organization: participatory educational spaces promote the empowerment of families in the face of their situation, the spirit of mutual help and community identity. In this way, and with the passage of time, it is the community itself that generates new proposals for collective work that further enhance its development.