General News Wed, 4 Aug 2010

Habitat For Humanity Throws in The Towel

.......After 21 Years of Building Houses

in Ghana

After 21 years, home builder for the under-privileged in Ghana, Habitat for

Humanity, Ghana (HFHG) a non-governmental, ecumenical Christian housing

ministry has given up its goal of building affordable homes for families in


Speaking in an exclusive interview with BUSINESS IN GHANA on Tuesday, a

source from HFHG in Accra said the Christian housing ministry’s home building

programme is no longer sustainable because many beneficiaries of its

programme have failed to pay their mortgages on schedule thus drying up the

resources of the organization.

As a result, HFHG has put a hold on its programme for the next three years

during which its core business would be to collect all outstanding debts

from defaulters.

HFHG could not divulge information on the magnitude of the debt but said

only few beneficiaries were honouring their obligations. “The problem is

partly due to poverty and attitudinal norms as many of our beneficiaries think

everything is free if it comes from the “white man”. Others think they

were simply being cheated because NGOs give out freely and why should HFHG

make them pay for the houses?

“Although we educate the beneficiaries before they sign their mortgages it

seems they do not fully accept the concept.”

The most recalcitrant defaulters are in the Volta Region where HFHG built

houses in the Ho and Keta districts between 1990 and 2000. Others are in the

Western and Brong Ahafo areas.

Since its inception in 1989, HFHG has built over 7,000 housing units in

Ghana, employing local labour and using local materials as much as possible.

It instituted a flexible monthly mortgage repayment of an equivalent of two

bags of cement per month at current market price spread over 20 years.

With the motto: ‘A world where everyone has a decent place to live’ HFHG’s

single-bedroom housing unit costs about Ghc1,500 and a two-bedroom unit

costs about Ghc4,000.

It has affiliates in all the regions in Ghana and collaborates with its

mother organization, Habitat for Humanity International whose affiliates

operate in many parts of Africa and the Middle East.

It is funded through the generosity of individuals, companies, churches,

and other corporate bodies, board members, staff, volunteers and affiliate

members of Habitat for Humanity Ghana. Donations received from those sources

are directly applied to the programme. Funds from the Revolving Fund for

Humanity are also used specifically for house construction.

After 21 years of working a well tried and tested international formula for

providing affordable housing, HFHG’s withdrawal from the under-privileged

housing market, is a lesson in sustainability of this market. The

two-pronged malady of poverty; hindering repayment and the welfare mentality;

government benevolence, have conspired against the International organization,

one of the best not for profit agencies in the USA and Europe.

Considering that there is no one success story of low-cost housing in

Ghana, this upheaval bodes lessons for the current STX deal before Parliament

and the business model intended to provide 110,000 “affordable” homes to the

under-privileged across Ghana.

By Sydney Casely-Hayford and Carly Ahiable