With housing associations surpluses flying through the roof – the 15 biggest London associations recording more than £1 billion for the first time – this is a good moment to consider what more these huge organisations with their huge surpluses (and often huge salaries) could do to support some of the poorest people on earth. Here are two different possibilities where a tiny, almost unnoticeable, fraction of the surplus would go a long way and do a lot of good.
Homeless International was founded by housing associations in 1987 and the bulk of its support has come from the housing sector. The organisation works to transform slums across the developing world: one billion people live in slums and HI supports slum dwellers to tackle the challenges of housing and basic services in their communities. Homeless International’s method of working is to promote community–led and sustainable development through local partners. It operates in many countries including the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Donation is made easy through the membership process of the National Housing Federation. One way associations could support HI is by participating in its guarantee fund, which uses deposits and donations to help partners operating around the world access bigger loans from financial institutions. Many more associations could take part. It is also easy to involve staff in fundraising for HI, see their staff page.
On a smaller scale, a well-established project with a long connection with the UK housing sector works in Masaya, Nicaragua, to provide solar energy to small and isolated communities that have never had electricity before.
‘Project Sun’ is financed by donations from housing associations in the UK, charities and individual donors, and operates through a revolving fund which has a high level of repayment (70-80%). It was once the beneficiary of the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Presidential Appeal and has been backed by organisations such as Midland Heart, Places for People, Southern Housing, Cairn Housing Association, LHA-ASRA, New Leaf and the Longhurst Group. Donations can be made to the project through Leicester Masaya Link Group, which runs various town twinning projects. They are looking to partner with more UK charities willing to make loans for onward lending to households who need electricity. More reports on projects in Nicaragua can be found on John Perry’s excellent Two Worlds blog.
The housing sector has an excellent record of support for projects such as these. But much more could be done and at little cost.
So, if you count your surpluses in many tens of millions, these are only two good suggestions for making a tiny fraction of the money work really hard for some of the poorest people on earth.