The International Housing Coalition

The International Housing Coalition (IHC) was formed in 2005 by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) to promote housing as an essential element to ending poverty worldwide. In addition to its three founding sponsors, 30 other organizations, including private companies, non-profit groups and academic/research institutions have joined the coalition and continue to contribute to its work.

IHC fights against urban poverty and for those living in slums and informal settlements around the world.  IHC helps tell their story, draws attention to the problems and suggests practical solutions that include the people themselves.

IHC supports programs and policies ensuring that cities serve all people with decent, adequate housing and healthy living environments, access to employment and services and the chance to live with dignity.

Cities of the Future

More than a billion people live in slums in sub-standard shelter without access to clean water and sanitation. In developing countries more than a million people are born in or move to cities every week, and as of 2010, the world urban population has exceeded the rural population. While urban growth may be inevitable, the dire living conditions of the urban poor are not. The case for a robust effort to address urban slum conditions has been well developed, and becomes only more relevant as the developing world becomes more and more urbanized. Investing in housing and urban services has many benefits:

  • It can spur economic advancement of the poor.
  • It can accelerate economic growth.
  • With the right policies, modest public investment can stimulate private housing investment.
  • Decent housing addresses a multitude of basic human needs, especially health.
  • Slum upgrading engages the urban poor, one of the most marginalized groups.

Despite an ever more urbanized world and a growing appreciation of the role of cities in economic growth, actual funding for shelter and urban programs from the development agencies has been declining. The reasons for this decline are varied but at least in part reflect an assumption that urban slums are self-correcting and that scarce donor resources are best spent elsewhere. In fact there is ample evidence that strategic investments in improving living conditions of the urban poor pay widespread dividends.

Promoting Sustainable Cities

The IHC strategy is to effect policy and programmatic change in foreign assistance through an advocacy program based on a broad coalition of varied organizations. The advocacy efforts are integrated with and draw strength from the Organization’s active engagement in housing and urban development applied research, information sharing, and policy advice in selected countries.

Advocacy. The IHC is involved in a range of advocacy activities and methods:

  • Direct contact with members of Congress and their staff;
  • Lobbying Congress in tandem with groups with similar concerns and the efforts of the IHC’s founding sponsors to influence policies, programs, and funding;
  • Membership in larger multi-sectoral advocacy groups;
  • Engaging foreign assistance agencies directly on program policies and design; and,
  • Educating policy makers about housing and urban issues.

Education and Knowledge Exchange.  The IHC works to shape the conversation around slums, urban poverty and urban sustainability and resilience, by bringing an urban voice into the policy conversation within the US government  and other multilaterals. With input from our members, we provide positions on policy and create an open dialogue with key players by providing a platform for discussion.

Applied Research. The IHC undertakes or participates in applied research and information dissemination that contributes to a better understanding of housing issues and solutions in developing countries while enhancing the credibility of the IHC as an effective advocate. Issues of concern include:

  • Housing conditions as they relate to basic human needs (e.g. access to water, clean air).
  • The relationship of slum conditions to other world development issues from inequality, to climate change, to economic growth opportunities.
  • Demographic trends, focusing on the world urbanization phenomenon.
  • Allocation of donor resources to housing and urban development.



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