Construction volunteers in front of new house.
Constru Casa is a non-profit organization offering basic housing to families living in extreme poverty. Constru Casa always works in collaboration with local partner organizations to identify and select families of exceptional need. Beneficiary families participate in the construction of their home and also pay back 35% of the total cost of their house over four years. Constru Casa collaborates with its partner organizations also in other construction projects and community service programs.
Guatemala is among the poorest countries of the Americas with more than half of its population living in poverty. Particularly acute is the problem of inadequate housing: a typical house is made of cornstalk walls, a dirt floor and a scrap material roof. Facilities for basic hygiene like clean water and bathrooms are most often non-existent.
This collaboration is what makes Constru Casa unique and is the most important mark of our initiative. The idea is that the impact of a new house is significantly enhanced if a family is already part of another social organization helping to improve their lives. Constru Casa’s goal is that the new house and the health-care, educational or social work provided reinforce one other and are the impetus to lift a family out of poverty.
In addition to working with partner organizations, we strongly believe that beneficiary families should contribute to their house. The house should not be seen as a gift, but the family should collaborate with the cost and build of the house. Constru Casa achieves this first through the participation of at least one family member in the construction. Secondly, the families pay a contribution of 35% of the total cost of the construction of their house. The amount of the contribution depends on the financial situation of the individual family and the type of house, and is determined in consultation with the social worker of the social partner organization. The families pay their contribution monthly during a period of four years. After the construction, they also participate in special programs organized in cooperation with the social partner organizations (follow-up meetings, accompaniment).
Housing Situation
Guatemala’s poverty is rooted in many social, economic and political factors, manifested by high illiteracy, poor health and extremely inadequate housing.
Twenty percent of Guatemala’s population holds fifty percent of their gross domestic product. This leaves the remaining eighty percent living on minimal income and unable to afford sustainable housing.
Youth in Guatemala
Youth represent 70% of the country’s 14.7 million inhabitants, and the housing deficit affects them drastically. According to the National Human Development Report 2011-2012,

“Malnutrition, illiteracy or low levels of education, unemployment or informal employment, and the lack of documentation limit youth’s abilities to exercise citizenship, and forces migration and violence. Extensive data also shows that the lack of public policy in providing development opportunities for youth has excluded nearly a million people under the age of 18 from Guatemala’s educational system. Furthermore, at least four million youth face serious limitations due to exclusion: 25 per cent of Guatemalan youth lack access to formal education or decent work; the life expectancy of 12 per cent of men and 6 per cent of women is 30 years of age; and 52 percent live in poverty.” (UNDP)
  • A housing deficit of 1.7 million homes
  • Eleven percent of homes in Guatemala are given as donations from outside organizations
  • In order to improve the housing sector in Guatemala, there must be seventy million new homes built
  • 1.8% of homes in Guatemala are paid through long term payments

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