The United Nations has designated the first Monday each October as World Habitat Day.
This year on Oct. 5 in Washington, D.C. and around the world, please join Habitat for Humanity in support of this global observance as we come together and declare that the lack of decent, affordable housing is unacceptable.
According to the United Nations, more than 100 million people in the world today are homeless. Millions more face a severe housing problem living without adequate sanitation, with irregular or no electricity supply and without adequate security.
Worldwide, more than 2 million housing units per year are needed for the next 50 years to solve the present worldwide housing crisis. With our global population expanding, however, at the end of those 50 years, there would still be a need for another 1 billion houses. (UN-HABITAT: 2005)
Raising awareness and advocating for change are the first steps toward transforming systems that perpetuate the global plague of poverty housing. World Habitat Day serves as an important reminder that everyone must unite to ensure that everyone has a safe, decent place to call home.
The U.N. further states that both developed and developing countries, cities and towns are increasingly feeling the effects of climate change, resource depletion, food insecurity, population growth and economic instability.
Rapid rates of urbanization cause serious negative consequences – overcrowding, poverty, slums with many poorly equipped to meet the service demands of ever growing urban populations.
With over half of the world’s population currently living in urban areas the U.N. believes there is no doubt that the “urban agenda” will increasingly become a priority for governments, local authorities and their non-governmental partners everywhere. U.S. Housing Facts
- About 95 million people, one third of the nation, have housing problems including a high-cost burden, overcrowding, poor quality shelter and homelessness. (National Low Income Housing Coalition: 2004)
- One in three American households spend more than 30 percent of income on housing, and one in seven spends more than 50 percent. (Joint Center for Housing Studies: 2006)
The number of low-income families that lack safe and affordable housing is related to the number of children that suffer from asthma, viral infections, anemia, stunted growth and other health problems. About 21,000 children have stunted growth attributable to the lack of stable housing; 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 9 are hospitalized for asthma attacks each year because of cockroach infestation at home; and more than 180 children die each year in house fires attributable to faulty electrical heating and electrical equipment. (Sandel, et al: 1999)
Global poverty facts
By the year 2030, an additional 3 billion people, about 40 percent of the world’s population, will need access to housing. This translates into a demand for 96,150 new affordable units every day and 4,000 every hour. (UN-HABITAT: 2005)
- One out of every three city dwellers – nearly a billion people – lives in a slum. (Slum indicators include: lack of water, lack of sanitation, overcrowding, non-durable structures and insecure tenure.) (UN-HABITAT: 2006)
UN-Habitat has reported that because of poor living conditions, women living in slums are more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than their rural counterparts, and children in slums are more likely to die from water-borne and respiratory illness. (UN-HABITAT: 2006)
- Housing formation generates non-housing related expenditures that help drive the economy. (Kissick, et al: 2006)
- Investing in housing expands the local tax base. (Kissick, et al: 2006)
The theme for World Habitat Day 2009 is “Planning our Urban Future”
Celebrations of World Habitat Day in Washington, D.C. will be an excellent opportunity to foster global discussion and raise the profile of shelter and urban issues at the national and international level. Events in the United States and around the world include policy forums, award presentations, luncheons, dinners, house-building and exhibitions.