IHC Newsletter - March 2007

Volume 1 Issue 1

LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY

IHC Forms Policy Committee: On February 27 the IHC Policy Committee met for the first time at the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). All IHC members are invited to Policy Committee meetings. The purposes of the meeting were to develop an IHC legislative program and identify contacts in Congress who might be interested in the mission and legislative program of the IHC. It was the consensus of the meeting that the IHC legislative program for 2007 should be modest and achievable. It was agreed the priority initiative should be to support the approval of an Africa Housing and Infrastructure Facility (AHIF) as part of USAID's Development Credit Authority (DCA). This request is part of the President's budget, and funded (as transfer authority) at a $5 million level. Potential supporters of the AHIF were identified, and NAR and Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) agreed to set up appointments on the Hill for the IHC in the near future. The IHC will periodically keep members informed of the progress that is being made. Please email Bob Dubinsky at Dubinsky@intlhc.org with your questions or suggestions.

Africa Housing and Infrastructure Facility (AHIF):

What is the AHIF: Rapid urbanization across Africa is creating a housing crisis and producing life-threatening living conditions in urban slums. To address these problems, the President’s FY08 budget proposes the establishment of the AHIF and $5 million in transfer authority to support it. AHIF will provide partial loan guarantees to leverage private sector financing for housing and infrastructure projects. A $5 million commitment by the US government will lead to $100 million for housing and infrastructure projects and will respond to African nations’ expressed priority for increased investment in these areas.

How will the AHIF work: The AHIF will make up to $5 million available to USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA), with up to $1 million of commitment by the US government will lead to $100 million for housing and infrastructure projects and will respond to African nations’ expressed priority for increased investment in these areas.

Since 1999, the DCA has been used to facilitate public private partnerships in developing countries to increase the availability and access to credit for borrowers who traditionally have found it difficult to obtain critically-needed financing from banks. Each loan guarantee is a powerful catalyst for unlocking private sector resources to spur economic growth by encouraging lending, increasing investment opportunities, and strengthening the   skills
and capacity of private financial institutions. In 2006, the DCA established 20 new guarantees totaling $62.6 million, making $159 million available in total credit, at a cost to USAID of only $5.8 million. Forty-eight countries are now participating in the DCA program. Fifty percent of the credit made available in 2006 was for Africa, but this met only a small portion of the demand.

Why the IHC Supports the AHIF:

  • AHIF supports Congressional and Presidential initiatives, such as the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, the Presidential Water for the Poor Initiative, and the Presidential Africa Mortgage Markets Initiative.
  • Improved housing and infrastructure in Africa support the objectives of the US foreign assistance framework, particularly investing in people and economic growth.
  • Without AHIF it will be very difficult for USAID field missions to commit to long-term housing and infrastructure projects, given budget cycle constraints.
  • Inadequate housing, roads, unsafe drinking water, and lack of sewers and electricity are pervasive in Africa— impeding development, economic activity, and causing severe health problems (among other problems).

IHC Efforts in Support of AHIF: The IHC sent a letter to Representative Nita M. Lowey, the Chairperson of the House Appropriations Sub Committee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, urging the Committee to approve an Africa Housing and Infrastructure Facility (AHIF) at a funding level of $5 million.

IHC ANALYSIS OF USAID’S NEW FOREIGN ASSISTANCE FRAMEWORK

IHC Advocates for Changes to USAID FY2007 Operational Plan Guidance: IHC reviewed the USAID FY2007 Operational Plan Guidance with grave concern and wrote the Administrator, Randall L. Tobias, requesting revisions to give greater recognition to housing so that missions will be able to include housing improvement, slum upgrading, and housing policy reform in their future programs. IHC also requested a meeting to discuss changes to the Guidance document.

Developing housing and slum upgrading projects are important as anti-poverty and economic growth tools and lend support to all of the objectives of the US foreign assistance framework: peace and security, governing justly and democratically, investing in people, economic growth, and humanitarian assistance.

USAID’s FY2007 Operational Plan Guidance is a perfect example of the lack of focus being given to the issue of housing. To illustrate this point, there are only five incidental references to housing in the entire document. These references hardly indicate recognition on the part of USAID of the importance of housing as a tool for poverty alleviation and economic growth. While the Operational Plan Guidance mentions water, titling, registration, micro credit and social assistance, all of which are important for promoting effective housing efforts, there is no mention of housing in the narrative or linkage relating these activities specifically to housing improvement, slum upgrading, or housing policy reform.

The IHC sees housing as the linchpin for alleviating world poverty because it is a powerful driver of economic development and growth. Housing construction, improvements and renovations are important generators of jobs, as are design, brokerage, appraisal, insurance and other sector services. Housing provides the framework for domestic credit in markets with functioning legal and financial institutions. Housing also has major positive impacts on other areas of human development, including improving health status and educational attainment.

Clearly, USAID missions are going to be reluctant to allocate funds for an activity that is not mentioned in any significant way in the agency’s methodology or performance objectives.

As part of the IHC’s efforts to get USAID to increase its focus on housing issues, the IHC is in the process of preparing a new Program section, including Elements and SubElements, to submit to USAID.

IHC BOARD CHAIR VISITS CENTRAL AMERICA

Peter Kimm, Chairman of the IHC Board of Directors, traveled to Central America for a week in early February to explore opportunities for implementing the IHC’s Leader with Associates (LWA) Agreement with USAID. The LWA incorporates a contracting vehicle that allows USAID missions to develop programs with the IHC focused on housing policy and advocacy.

In addition, he visited the Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) area offices in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala.

In Costa Rica, the team met with the HFHI Latin American leadership to discuss the IHC, advocacy efforts, USAID, and related matters. There is excitement about the new parameters for HFHI’s activities and interest in working with IHC. In El Salvador the team met with the HFHI leadership and with USAID Mission Director Deborah Kennedy-Irahetu and Deputy Director Tully Cornick to discuss possible areas of USAID-HFHI future collaboration.
Later in the day the team met with leaders of NGOs involved in the housing sector in El Salvador, who provided a comprehensive assessment of the housing situation in the country, including a series of recommendations for policy changes and action.

In Guatemala meetings were held with HFHI/Guatemala leadership and with Jim Stein, Director of Economic Development at USAID.

In these countries the HFHI national organizations are strong, with their own Boards and Executive Directors and significant levels of output. HFHI in Guatemala has built more than 25,000 houses and is the largest homebuilder in the country. Both have an increasing interest in national housing policy and issues.

The USAID officials were friendly and had personal housing experience but advised that housing was not included in current Mission objectives. The team expressed interest in a medium to long-term relationship and explored possible areas of common interests, such as poverty alleviation, drinking water, microfinance and especially disaster assistance. Disasters are recurrent in Central America and usually involve housing.

In El Salvador, USAID suggested that HFHI participate in an ongoing dialogue with the Superintendent of Banks about mortgage lending criteria as a next step in a continuing relationship.

In Guatemala, the team learned that the US provided $6 million in housing assistance for the damage caused by Hurricane Stan. In accordance with the request of the Guatemalan government, this money was transferred to the UNDP which was managing disaster assistance from multiple sources. IHC’s view is that in future disasters, some part of the funds should be used to monitor expenditures and ensure that the best possible policies are utilized in the implementation of the disaster relief effort.

REAUME FOUNDATION GRANT

IHC Receives Grant from the Reaume Foundation for Africa Housing Activities: The IHC received a grant of $20,000 from the Leonard P. Reaume Foundation to provide partial funding for a project to study housing policy problems and related issues in selected countries in Africa and organize a policy forum to consider recommendations about what specific steps the US government could take to help address Africa’s and the developing world’s housing needs.

The IHC is producing a background study on housing problems and issues in Africa that will be used as the basis for discussion in the high-level policy forum which will be held in early summer on Capitol Hill. The study will survey the current status of housing, including policies and approaches, the extent of current US government housing and housing-related activities and impediments to access to affordable housing. Based on this information, the study will present policy and program options for increasing the role, scale, and impact of US government assistance to provide increased access to affordable housing in Africa and elsewhere. The IHC is conducting the study in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

The International Real Property Foundation (IRPF) has contributed some funding for the study in Africa. The IHC, as part of its field work, will gather information on private real estate brokers and appraisers and the local property markers in the four countries.

IHC FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN

IHC Embarks on Multi-faceted Fundraising Campaign: In late 2006, the IHC hired Terry Ann Rogers as a consultant for a four-month period to undertake a fundraising campaign. Fundraising packets were prepared for the campaign. Packets may be obtained by contacting the IHC at rogers@intlhc.org.

The fundraising campaign is divided into three components: sponsors, members and foundations. The IHC is working with its three founding sponsors, Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), and Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), on getting additional sponsors.

IHC packets were sent to companies and organizations as part of the membership development campaign. Membership in the IHC is an affordable $50 per year. The membership statement and application are attached to this newsletter or may be accessed on the IHC’s website at www.intlhc.org Benefits of membership include: supporting the IHC in its efforts to raise the priority, level of investment, and attention given to the provision of low income housing by bilateral and multilateral donor organizations and by governments in developing countries; participating in the IHC’s public policy committee; receiving the IHC newsletter; receiving research that the IHC develops; and eceiving information about meetings and conferences organized by the IHC, sharing information and best practices on housing and slum upgrading issues.

Current members of the IHC (in addition to the sponsors listed above) are: Annie E. Casey Foundation, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), Westat, Housing International LLC, Affordable Housing Institute, Integrated Holistic Approach Urban Development Project (IHA-UDP), TCG International (TCGI), PADCO, International Consortium of Real Estate Associations (ICREA), and International Union for Housing Finance. New membership applications have been received and are awaiting approval by the IHC Board of Directors.

IHC Luncheon for Consulting Companies: The first in a series of IHC outreach luncheons for membership development was held for consulting firms on January 30. The luncheon took place at the NAR offices with nineteen people attending, from the IHC, Chemonics, TCG International, PADCO, Abt Associates, Urban Institute, CHF International, USAID, Westat, and Habitat for Humanity International. After presentations about the IHC, discussion focused on advocacy on the hill, the dearth of relevant research linking housing investment and economic growth, the new USAID Operational Plan Guidance, and how to craft a positive message about housing advocacy.

Foundations: Obtaining support from foundations is key to the IHC’s being able to fulfill its programmatic mission. Research on foundations is underway. Prior to submitting formal grant applications, the IHC needs to develop concept papers and then schedule introductory meetings with the targeted foundations. A group of advisors on housing research is meeting on March 28, 2007 to assist the IHC with the identification of concepts and the writing of the concept papers.



Below is the IHC membership statement and application. Please print it out, sign the statement, fill in the application and send a check.

International Housing Coalition Membership Statement

As a member of the International Housing Coalition, the organization I represent agrees to support the following mission statement, principles and goals of the IHC:

IHC Mission and Principles:

The IHC supports the basic principles of private property rights, secure tenure, effective title systems, and efficient and equitable housing finance systems—all essential elements to economic growth, civic stability and democratic values. The IHC vigorously advocates for these principles in national and international forums and emphasizes giving high, sustained priority to housing the world’s poor and slum dwellers in support of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

IHC Goals:

  1. Assist in the design and implementation of advocacy programs that support “HOUSING FOR ALL,” including the formation and training of housing coalitions in selected countries.
  2. Advocate for greater investment in shelter and housing programs in developing countries.
  3. Participate in global forums, training opportunities and speaking engagements as a means of highlighting shelter and housing issues within the context of poverty reduction.
  4. Establish cooperative relationships with coalitions and other parties with goals similar to the IHC so that jointly more attention may be brought to shelter and housing issues.
  5. Provide targeted assistance in housing policy, program analysis and assessment to communities, municipalities and nations, when requested.
  6. Work with donor organizations, USAID Missions and local coalitions on housing policies and programs (e.g., finance, land tenure, etc.).
  7. Serve as a source of shelter/housing data and studies that contributes significantly to policy development debates and links members and other interested parties to the data needed to impact policy and programs.
  8. Advocate for the improvement of incentives, the lowering of risks, and the elimination of impediments facing the provision of low-income housing in selected countries.
Name of Organization

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Signature of Authorized Representative of the Organization

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Date ____________________________________________________________________


International Housing Coalition (IHC) Membership Application

The organization described below seeks membership in the International Housing Coalition:

Name of Organization

________________________________________________________________________

Headquarters Address
________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Contact Person/Title

________________________________________________________________________

Phone Number of Contact Person
________________________________________________________________________

Email Address of Contact Person

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Describe Organization’s Mission, Goals, and Organizational Structure

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

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Size of the Organization____________________________________________________

Size of 2006 Operating Budget ($US)__________________________________________

Other relevant information (Countries of operation etc)

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Signed General Membership Statement Enclosed?       Yes
Check for $50 Enclosed?        Yes
Name of Person Providing Information and Contact Information

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Date ___________________________________________________________________

Mail to:

Membership
International Housing Coalition
10 G Street NE, Suite 480
Washington, DC 20002