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The International Housing Coalition (IHC) has one, resounding goal: to put a roof over the heads of millions of underserved people as an essential step towards ending global poverty.

The IHC was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 2005 through the efforts of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Canadian Real Estate Association and Habitat for Humanity International. Besides these three founding sponsors, 33 other organizations including private companies and academic research institutions contribute to the IHC’s work.

The IHC addresses the fact that now, as developing countries become more urbanized, more than one billion people live in sub-standard shelters within slums, without access to clean water and sanitation. IHC has also formed a valuable partnership with Cities Alliance, a global partnership committed to urban poverty reduction and the promotion of the role of cities in sustainable development.

Cities Alliance’s research has shown that developing urban slums has a myriad of benefits. “Upgrading slums” promotes the fundamental human right to live with basic dignity in decent conditions. On a more macro-scale, however, cities that upgrade their slums have been proven to show reduced rates of crime, disease, and political unrest as well as more stable and prosperous economies.

the IHC attacks the housing issue from all angles through a combination of international advocacy campaigns that reach out to Congress members and their staff, applied research that enhances the IHC’s credibility as an effective advocate, short term lobbying alliances, and direct policy engagement in target countries.

Ensuring that notably impoverished regions of certain developing countries receive a housing upgrade may be the essential first step in paving the way for future change. Countries that need increased access to education, health care, healthy and affordable food, and economic opportunity must necessarily first have a stable, safe place to come home to each night.

The IHC maintains that access to safe and affordable shelter is truly the foundation of sustainable development, a base from which all other significant reforms must grow. If the United States is truly committed to shaping its foreign policy towards alleviating global poverty, then it should take a foremost interest in housing reformation abroad.

–  Alexandra Bruschi

Sources: International Housing Coalition Website, Cities Alliance
Photo: South American Experts