From Scotland to Senegal, winning homes

A Scottish organization which re-develops and provides good quality affordable housing to people on low incomes and a Senegalese project which has helped 20,000 people settle in safe homes have won the top prizes in the world’s leading housing competition, the World Habitat Awards. Winners receive £10,000 and the opportunity for international development opportunities.

Homes For Good, based in Glasgow, Scotland, has raised £20 million in social investment since 2014 to create a portfolio of affordable, good-quality homes let to tenants on low incomes.

The organization, which manages 500 homes in Glasgow and the West of Scotland, couples affordable rent with a holistic tenancy support approach, including providing advice on reducing energy bills and around benefit claims. Its Love Home program partners tenants with an interior designer so they can create a home that reflects their needs and fosters a sense of belonging.

UrbaSEN and the Senegalese Federation of Inhabitants, based in West Africa. is a local NGO that works to improve quality of life and build resilience to climate change in informal settlements in Senegal, where severe flooding has become a recurring problem, damaging homes and creating unsanitary living conditions.

Led by the Senegalese Federation of Inhabitants, a federation of women’s saving groups, it has successfully integrated 18 municipalities into its work. It has introduced an early warning system for floods and developed sustainable building materials using clay and an invasive plant species. More than 20,000 people have directly benefited from the project so far.

“Glasgow upends the idea that a good return on investment in housing requires steep rents.” says Leilani Farha, Global Director of The Shift and a final judge of the World Habitat Awards,. “Instead, they’ve developed an effective business model investing in buildings which they upgrade and provide at affordable rates for people with the lowest incomes.”

Drawing on the knowledge and expertise of women and young people, the Senegalese project “harnesses cutting-edge technology and has developed climate-friendly building materials to improve the lives of some of the most disadvantaged people in the world.” she said. “Governments struggling to implement the right to housing in the context of informal settlements have much to learn from this project.”

World Habitat is also presenting two Silver Awards and six Bronze Awards:

  • Sostre Civic, Spain (Silver Award): An umbrella organization that supports cooperative groups to purchase and/or develop buildings and advocates for the sector in Catalonia and throughout Spain.
  • MicroBuild Fund, Worldwide (Silver Award): Launched by Habitat For Humanity with the aim of demonstrating the viability of housing-specific microfinance and its efficacy in tackling the vast global housing deficit, this $100 million 10-year fund provides investment capital and technical assistance to Microfinance Institutions partners to help them create or refine housing-specific loan products for their low-income clients.
  • Jaga Mission, India (Bronze Award): A project which aims to upgrade 2,919 slums in the state of Odisha, improving conditions for 1.2 million people. Taking a holistic approach to addressing poverty, it focuses on three core issues: granting land rights to residents to mitigate the threat of forced evictions; infrastructure upgrades to improve living conditions; and community mobilization to empower marginalized groups to construct, manage and maintain upgraded facilities.
  • Mas Coop, France (Bronze Award): A residents’ cooperative in Southwest France paving the way for a new model of affordable housing that bridges the gap between ownership and rent for low and middle-income households, it currently consists of 11 eco-homes and a communal building and garden and is home to 29 residents.
  • Housing Action Group, Namibia (Bronze Award): This project aims to tackle an urgent crisis, whereby 80% of the country’s urban population live in informal settlements with little or no access to basic services and no land rights. It helps these communities formalize land ownership, meet their infrastructure needs and access funds to upgrade homes or build new ones.
  • Renta tu Casa, Mexico (Bronze Award): In Mexico, millions of homes sit empty. This project brings empty homes back into use by leasing them to homeless people, victims of domestic or gender-based violence, the elderly, people with disabilities and migrants.
  • SIPHO, Spain (Bronze Award): A mediation service which has been working to prevent evictions of vulnerable people in Barcelona, it intervenes in 90% of evictions in the city, acting as a mediator between multiple parties and co-ordinating access to subsidies and referrals to other support services.
  • ULACAV, Latin America (Bronze Award): This network of professors and university departments works to reshape the academic landscape through training, research and community projects, aiming to contribute to the crucial institutional change needed to make an impact on the inadequate housing crisis which affects 120 million people across Latin America.