News

ATLANTA (March 16, 2020) — Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford issued the following statement regarding the COVID-19 pandemic:

In recent days and weeks, a wave of closures, cancellations and postponements has unfurled as the COVID-19 pandemic has emerged. Those decisions — taken individually, totalled in the aggregate — have been stunning acts of solidarity, expressions of concern and collective responsibility for the health and well-being of our communities and our neighbours.

That sense of connectedness and a willingness to actively help shape the world around us for the better have always been a hallmark of Habitat and supporters like you. They are deep in our DNA. They are what have sustained our work with families for more than 40 years, they are what will ensure we weather this unprecedented challenge, and they are what will be needed — more than ever — when we all emerge from this current crisis.

We have always believed that we will only find our way forward together. It’s true every day — and will be even truer now. The need we work so hard every day to meet will only grow.

When any disaster hits — a storm, a disease, a financial crisis — it is always those who struggle most who suddenly find themselves struggling even more. They are our neighbours. Families already living in conditions that aren’t conducive to good health, those whose finances have long been taxed beyond measure because housing eats up too large a portion of their income, those newly vulnerable because of the economic shock waves that something like this so often sets off.

As this disease has spread, we have implemented many changes ourselves, and we continue to monitor and wrestle with the uncharted territory we all find ourselves in now. Our utmost priority at all times is protecting the people and communities we serve, and that has meant pausing some activities. When the time is right, Habitat for Humanity stands ready to once again accelerate our efforts with renewed energy and commitment. We are so desperately needed. Because this should be a world where everyone has a decent place to live. It should be a world where we care for each other, where we recognize that we are all connected, and where we come together in times of crisis — and stay together when the urgency has lifted but the need remains.

As much as we wish there might be a playbook for the situation we all find ourselves in, it has not been written yet. What has been written is the command to love our neighbours and to act with kindness wherever we can. We thank you for the close and loving global community that you continue to help us build, and we appreciate your unwavering support.

About Habitat for Humanity

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org 

 
 

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Fresh water is vital for life. On average, a human being cannot survive more than three days without it. Water is essential for the production of our food, virtually all of our goods and services and for the environment. 

The world now faces increasing challenges posed by water stress, floods and droughts and lack of access to clean supplies. There is an urgent need to improve forecasting, monitoring and management of water supplies and to tackle the problem of too much, too little or too polluted water. (The World Meteorological Organisation, World Met Day 2020)

Habitat Trinidad & Tobago has had to deal first hand with the effects of climate change in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider region. As we observe #WorldMetDay on March 23, and with the support of Habitat International’s Latin America and Caribbean Area Office in Costa Rica, we now offer a holistic suite of services to respond to shelter incidents in the English-speaking Caribbean. Following the successful completion of the #BuildBackBetter project in Dominica (in partnership with the Lutheran World Relief and the International Office of Migration) we are well-positioned and ready to mobilize as the Lead Shelter Actor in CARICOM.

Our Caribbean Services Catalogue includes: 

ASSESSMENT OF HOUSES 

Assessment tools and engineers.

Habitat has experience in developing assessment tools for houses damaged, and also to identify the repairs/retrofitting needed. Habitat can also convene and deploy civil engineers from Trinidad and Tobago with experience in carrying out housing assessments.

RECRUITMENT OF PROFESSIONALS FROM NEIGHBOURING CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES

Skilled builders, engineers, architects, land tenure specialists.

Immediately after a disaster, it is not easy to find enough skilled technicians and builders in the affected country, due to the size of the countries and the type of economy prevailing in the region (tourism). Furthermore, it takes several months to train the local labour force. Through our network in the region, Habitat could deploy advisers from Jamaica and Haiti (land lawyers, land surveyors and GIS specialists), and convene civil engineers and architects who are Caribbean nationals and licensed to work in the region.

BASIC CONSTRUCTION TRAINING 

Carpentry & Masonry training. 

Habitat has developed a training package on the construction of wooden houses, with a special version for the repairing of roofs only. This integrates build-back-safer issues, explaining low-cost techniques for retrofitting of houses. We have also developed a training package on masonry, focusing especially on foundations and bearing structures resilient to disasters. Both courses are based on manuals contextualized for the Caribbean region.

HEALTHY HOUSING AWARENESS

Based on the recommendations from the Pan-American Health Organization, Habitat has developed a training package on hygienic-sanitary practices in homes and neighbourhoods. We can provide both train-the-trainer facilitators and community rollouts for the Healthy Housing Habits programme.

COMMUNITY MOBILIZATION

Habitat could provide expertise and resources to support the development and implementation of community mobilization strategies. Our flagship programme PASSA – (Participatory Approach to Safe Shelter Awareness) is a participatory methodology to assess risks, raise awareness and plan for safer shelter at the community level. 

PROCUREMENT OF CONSTRUCTION INPUTS FROM TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

The construction department of Habitat Trinidad and Tobago Habitat can offer tendering and procurement services, especially for building materials for compatible jurisdictions.

LAND TENURE REGULARIZATION SERVICES, CAPACITY BUILDING & GIS ENUMERATION AND MAPPING

Habitat for Humanity’s fit-for-purpose services include know-how, methodologies, a GIS platform, apps, and other tools to advance the land tenure relationship. We support the security of tenure, sustainable land use, management and administration, territorial planning, land rights and land tenure systems assessments, as well as technological, legal, surveying and community participation solutions to make current systems more cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable.

Habitat can produce georeferenced information of a given community through enumeration exercises and produce maps using GIS software. We can also offer access to an online GIS platform, accessible through desktops, tablet computers and cell phones.

To learn more about how you and your organisation can contribute to Disaster Management programmes in the region, please contactus@habitat-tt.org or call 675-1222.

Shared by Jonathon Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International: Habitat has always chosen to embody these values, and the steps we are taking now are taken in this same vein. May you be healthy, may you be well, and may you and yours feel God’s love around you.

 

Prayer for a Pandemic
By Cameron Bellm

May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Amen.

Habitat for Humanity recognises the importance of water and sanitation in good health, and this is why we prioritize this area when helping homeowners improve their living environment. When an applicant does not meet the full criteria for a new build, we work with them to make gradual improvements to their current structure, beginning with Water, Sanitation and Health interventions.

One of our most popular services is our community Healthy Housing Habits training. In the 8-part series of community meetings, we systematically take families through the process of analysing their environment critically, to see how the simplest of actions can bring significant benefits to families and neighbourhoods. 

Water is the source of life, but when polluted or dirty, it carries microbes and parasites and substances that can cause disease and make us sick. It is our responsibility to keep our water safe and healthy. 

When we live in healthy homes, we must have a nearby water supply of a good enough quality and enough for everyone. 

We can all take action in small ways – by covering open water storage tanks, or by ensuring that the water eliminated from our toilets and showers and kitchen sinks is removed from our homes in safe and healthy ways. 

We can also help our community to have safe water by asking local authorities to work with families on safe water practices. 

The bathroom and toilet should include a facility that safely carries urine and faeces to the public sewer system or a properly built septic system. 

It is important to have a sink where hands can be washed, preferably in the same room, or just outside of or adjacent to the toilet area. This sink should always have soap and hand sanitizer if possible available for everyone to use.

The toilet lid and the door of the room where it is located should always be kept closed when not in use. 

The adequate and hygienic disposal of wastewater, as well as rainwater, reduces health risks and creates a more agreeable environment for our house and its surroundings.

Any leak that appears—whether in the shower or the toilet—should be repaired as quickly as possible, as this represents significant amounts of wasted water. 

Avoid at all costs going to the toilet in the natural environment. This is dangerous to you, other people and the environment. 

Do not let used water or rainwater become stagnant or exposed, as leaves, branches, garbage and domestic animals can alter its course or cause it to overflow, resulting in serious issues with bad smells, contamination, and even damage to the home or neighbourhood. 

For more useful tips, or to request a Healthy Housing Habit workshop, check out our website at habitat-tt.org or our Facebook Page @HabitatTNT and call 675-1222 to learn more!

The most efficient way to achieve a healthy home is by sharing cleaning, tidying and maintenance responsibilities between ALL family members, men, women AND children!

We are responsible for keeping our pets and farm animals in appropriate spaces and disposing of their waste and uneaten food safely. That way, they do not transmit disease or contaminate our homes or neighbourhoods.

It is important to regularly check the conditions of our home’s plumbing and sewage, walls, roofs and floors, and set aside a small amount every week or month to tackle repairs EARLY, before they become too big for us to handle.

Habitat for Humanity can help you learn basic home maintenance techniques to benefit your home, save money, and who knows, maybe increase your income!

Read More

It is recommended that parents sleep separately from children. If children share rooms, it is also recommended that boys share with boys and girls with girls. Privacy can be maintained in rooms by dividing spaces, using furniture, and using outdoor space whenever possible, or by expanding the house. These divisions do not necessarily need to be walls, but could be objects, pieces of furniture, curtains or other features that differentiate or isolate one space from another.

To prevent a person suffering from a respiratory, skin or other illness from infecting others or being adversely affected by family members, it is important that he/she sleep in a separate space from the rest of the family, or at least at a safe distance away.

Habitat for Humanity can teach you and your neighbours how to make good use of small space, through our community workshops.

Read More

Comfortable, healthy and safe living coexistence depends on how we use and distribute the space in our homes. When we use space wisely, we prevent overcrowding, which can lead to interpersonal conflicts, promiscuity, violence, the spread of illness and other health effects.

Food preparation, personal hygiene and proper rest require clean, tidy and healthy areas.

These areas don’t have to be entirely separate rooms – in fact, it helps if the furniture in our home can be adapted easily to fit the available space and the day-to-day needs of our families.

Habitat for Humanity can help you figure out your space needs for healthy living! We can teach you and your neighbours how to make good use of small space, through our community workshops.

For more useful tips, check out our Facebook Page @HabitatTNT and call 675-1222 to learn more!

Read More

Since 1997, Habitat Trinidad and Tobago has contributed significantly to the National Strategic Development Plans, and by extension, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for Housing and Infrastructure through:

  • Number of Shelter Solutions – new houses, repairs, renovations, sanitation blocks, completions, and materials supplied – 877
  • Number of persons benefiting from training and shelter solutions – 4074
  • Number of people impacted – 24755

The programmes we offer to individuals, communities and corporate citizens include Basic Home Maintenance and Building Hurricane Resilient Homes, Disaster Mitigation, Emergency Preparation and Disaster Recovery, Financial Management,  and Construction Skills Upgrades.

We also have a special focus on Disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, and the Gender Communities. We advocate on their behalf to dismantle the systemic barriers to housing & land tenure and change the legislation and policies preventing disabled and vulnerable communities from accessing affordable shelter.

We value our close collaboration with leading NGOs and Civil Society on Human Rights and Land Tenure, and we have been recognized as the Lead Humanitarian Actor on Shelter in Disasters in the CARICOM region.  Regionally, we wrote the Trinidad and Tobago National Report on Housing for UN Habitat’s Meeting in Ecuador in 2016 and are supporting the Dominica Government in Building Back Better after the 2017 Hurricane Season, with Training, Capacity -building in the Construction SEctor and other interventions. Our current focus is on collaborating with the International Office of Migration and Lutheran World Relief on Response and Recovery programmes developed for the October 2018 floods and in preparation for the current hurricane season.

A few examples of housing’s catalytic impacts:
1. Housing is a driver, catalyst and contributor for 13 of the 17 SDGs.
2. Housing is a platform for household resilience and sustainability, driving Human Development Index and Multi-Poverty Index outcomes in health, education and standard of living, including indicators in nutrition; child mortality; school enrollment; energy; water; sanitation and durable, healthy construction.
3. Housing as a process can create a sense of place and dignity, building community cohesion as well as one’s social and financial network and assets.
4. Adequate and affordable housing:
• Is a multiplier of community jobs and income.
• Improves household income and financial stability, often providing home-based industry opportunities.
5. Housing is a prerequisite for inclusive, equitable, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.

The five key housing SDGs
Goal 1 – No Poverty
• Adequate housing builds resilience and reduces vulnerability to economic, social and climate-related shocks and disasters.
• Equal access to the economic resources of housing and the ownership and control over land and the income it generates promotes sustainability.
Goal 5 – Gender Equality
• Equal access to housing protects women from discriminatory policies and practices related to land distribution, titling and inheritance.
Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation
• Access to clean water and sanitation are integral to safe, healthy, adequate housing.
Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy
• Housing systems that are energy-efficient and that use affordable, clean energy save costs and reduce air pollution and the effects of climate change.
Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities
• Access to affordable, adequate, safe and inclusive housing and basic services increases resilience.
• Integrated housing frameworks support economic, social and environmental policy planning and infrastructure linkages across the urban-rural ecosystem.

Ladies and gentlemen TT$ 58.5 Million is an ambitious goal, but a necessary one if we are to be the catalyst that is needed to propel Trinidad and Tobago forward to a place where safe and affordable is provided for all!”
With these words, Sieunarine Coosal issued a clarion call to the national community to support Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago’s Capital Campaign 2020-2024.
In a short ceremony on February 13th at the Courtyard Marriott, the business magnate celebrated the work of the first campaign (2012-2018) and accepted the baton of leadership from Ronald Harford, retired Chairman of Republic Bank, to guide this major fundraising drive.  

Habitat Trinidad and Tobago will serve the country through:

Housing solutions – 550

Training  (Individuals) – 2500

Families served – 3000

Total national impact – 15000 people

Influential members of the business community have already signed on to the task.  The members working with Cabinet Chairman Coosal are:

·         Gregory Aboud

·         Dominic Hadeed

·         Eugene Tiah

·         Dawn Thomas

·         Nicholas Lok Jack

·         Shaun Rampersad

·         Gabriel Faria

 

You may contactus@habitat-tt.org for additional details or for exclusive interview opportunities.

Any leak that appears—whether in the shower or the toilet—should be repaired as quickly as possible, as this represents significant amounts of wasted water.

Avoid at all costs going to the toilet in the natural environment. This is dangerous to you, other people and the environment.

Do not let used water or rainwater become stagnant or exposed, as leaves, branches, garbage and domestic animals can alter its course or cause it to overflow, resulting in serious issues with bad smells, contamination, and even damage to the home or neighbourhood.

For more useful tips, check out our Facebook Page @HabitatTNT and call 675-1222 to learn more!

Read More

The bathroom and toilet should include a facility that safely carries urine and faeces to the public sewer system or a properly built septic system.

It is important to have a sink where hands can be washed, preferably in the same room, or just outside of or adjacent to the toilet area. This sink should always have soap and hand sanitizer if possible available for everyone to use.

The toilet lid and the door of the room where it is located should always be kept closed when not in use.

The adequate and hygienic disposal of waste water, as well as rainwater, reduces health risks and creates a more agreeable environment for our house and its surroundings.

For more useful tips, check out our Facebook Page @HabitatTNT and call 675-1222 to learn more!

Read More

Water is the source of life, but when polluted or dirty, it carries microbes and parasites and substances that can cause disease and make us sick. It is our responsibility to keep our water safe and healthy.

When we live in healthy homes, we must have a nearby water supply of a good enough quality and enough for everyone. We can all take action in small ways – by covering open water storage tanks, or by ensuring that the water eliminated from our toilets and showers and kitchen sinks is removed from our homes in safe and healthy ways.

We can also help our community to have safe water by asking local authorities to work with families on safe water practices. Habitat for Humanity can help! Check out our Facebook Page @HabitatTNT and call 675-1222 to learn more!

Read More

The new decade finds us thankful for the opportunity to celebrate 23 years of building shelters, communities and hope in partnership with the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and the wider Caribbean region.  Volunteers, staff members, donors and homeowners in TandT, Jamaica and Dominica all share a vision of a world where everyone has a safe, decent and affordable place to call home. Why? Because, no matter who we are or where we come from, we all deserve to have a decent life. We deserve to feel strength and stability day after day. We deserve to know we have the power to take care of ourselves and build our own futures.  At Habitat for Humanity, this is what unites us.  Through shelter, we empower. Our shared vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.  Because you, me, we — we’re all humans. And every single one of us deserves the opportunity for a better future.

Together with all of you here in our country, and the millions of supporters around the world, we build STRENGTH, STABILITY and SELF-RELIANCE through SHELTER.

STRENGTH

A Habitat home is a strong foundation for a family, an opportunity on which they can build a better life. Strong and stable homes help build strong and stable communities.

STABILITY

A Habitat home is a stabilizing force for a family. Better, affordable living conditions lead to improved health, stronger childhood development and the ability — and financial flexibility — to make forward-looking choices.

SELF-RELIANCE

Through shelter, we empower. A decent place to live and an affordable mortgage help homeowners save more, invest in education, pursue opportunity and have more financial stability.

And let’s not forget, to complement our commitment to SERVICE, we need your SUPPORT, all of you. Your time, your talents, your talk and your treasure all add up to help bring independence to families in need of decent SHELTER, and to build a better life for themselves and their families.

That goal was our driving force when we began on March 14th 1997, and it continues to propel us forward today.

As we come to the end of a year of triumphs and challenges, joys and sorrows, progress and setbacks, we look back with gratitude for the continued support of individuals and organisations here and around the world.

Despite the challenging economic situation, Corporate Trinidad and Tobago continue to believe that doing good is just good business. 

Proman's CEO David Cassidy helping Cherrylyn to build her home

Proman’s CEO David Cassidy helping Cherrylyn to build her home

Construction celebrates the successful completion of our first year partnering with the Proman Family of Companies. Hannah and Lumecia constructed two full disaster-resilient houses with healthy sanitation facilities. Xavier and Vicki also completed vital repairs on their homes with Proman’s help. All four homeowners were severely affected by the heavy rains of October 2018. These houses will be used as model houses for training and construction. Proman also supported our Disaster and Emergency Resilience Programme, providing targetted materials and training for disability groups and schools throughout the country. National Director Jennifer Massiah said: Habitat Trinidad and Tobago is thrilled with the successful Proman partnership, the way it has transformed the lives of Lumecia, Victora, Xavier and Hannah, and the potential impact on hundreds of people in the years to come. Through their stellar work on the various Proman Builds, the team showed the corporate community that doing good is a fundamental part of doing good business. The Proman Family of Companies in our country is deeply committed to their communities, and the staff and management proved to be exceptional advocates for the goal of a safe, decent and affordable home for everyone. Thank you for your support and congratulations on a job well done!

The Coosal’s Group and Republic Bank Limited added major in-kind donations and project funding to the construction and DRRR programmes, while PLNL, Trinidad Systems Limited and Methanex deepened their relationship with us through staff and management construction builds.  

Our Community Development Team said: “Farewell and au revoir” to the Programme Manager Natasha Greaves. “Tash”, as she is fondly called, was the linchpin of Habitat Trinidad and Tobago, starting as the Accountant a decade ago and moving through the ranks to become a valued and respected part of the management team. She mentored the younger (and older) staff members, teaching them by word and deed what active “servant leadership” looks like. She is now the Officer in Charge at the International Office for Migration Dominica, where she continues to support communities impacted by shelter issues. We wish her all success in the future.

 

Sadly, we also lost Indarjit, one of our homeowners in July; to his family, we offer our condolences and our comfort for their loss. The Proman Group of companies stepped in to pay off his outstanding mortgage so that his family would not have to worry about their future. His wife, a well-respected employee, is immensely grateful for the support. 

 

The Habitat philanthropic model successfully empowers families to take transformational actions in their lives, and impact their communities as well. Despite the challenging economic conditions, our homeowners strived to meet their mortgage commitments with grace and determination – not just for their sakes’ but because they understand that their mortgage contributions are the base of the Habitat “Revolving Fund“, supporting other families on the road to safe, decent and affordable housing. Hence, several families celebrated “Pay-off Day” well ahead of schedule, to the extent that our projected mortgage “income” ended the year at 111% of the target.

 

Our major success in 2019 came after two years of solid work driven by the entire Habitat team. With the support of the Latin America and Caribbean Area Office in Costa Rica, we now offer a holistic suite of services to respond to shelter incidents in the English-speaking Caribbean. Following the successful completion of the #BuildBackBetter projects in Dominica (in partnership with the Lutheran World Relief and the International Office of Migration) we are well-positioned and ready to mobilize as the Lead Shelter NGO in CARICOM. Habitat Trinidad & Tobago can offer an à la carte menu of our core services, specifically-tailored to support both resilience activities and holistic recovery post-disaster. Our network of support in the region includes the resources of Habitat International, partnerships with government entities and collaborations with civil society actors in local jurisdictions.

To find out more about our Disaster Resilience & Recovery Caribbean Services Catalogue you can email contactus@habitat-tt.org

The new Fiscal Year 2020 (July 2019 – June 2020) finds us investing and building greater capacities in our team, and finding new and innovative ways to raise awareness, make friends and grow funds. Since 1997, we have served 877 families with shelter solutions – new houses, repairs, renovations, completions – and trained 4,951 people. Our Disaster Resilience efforts helped 1556 families and we have supported almost 25,000 people in their quest for safe, decent, adequate and affordable shelter! We celebrate a major acknowledgement of our relevance to the National Strategic Development Plan, with our inclusion as the only no-State Shelter Actor in the latest Ministry of Housing “Housing 101” Manual. This is a national guide to buying, building, renting or renovating a home, and we are thrilled to be there!  With the collaboration of every sector, and particularly your individual unwavering support in the years to come, we can serve many more persons in need of safe, decent and affordable access to shelter.

Architects of Change BannerTo this end, we are happy to introduce our new supporter programme. This is a call to take small, yet significant actions in your life, and become an Architect of Change for our country. Because they believe that everyone deserves a decent place to call home, these long-standing supporters of Habitat’s work are prepared to put themselves forward to encourage their peers and the national community to work with us. We all have the power to be Architects of Change in our own lives, in our own homes and our own communities. This is the opportunity to challenge what is, imagine what can be, then create the future we want for our country. 

Together, we CAN make a difference, play a part in moving our nation forward and ultimately, build safe, stable and self-reliant, caring, conscious, connected and compassionate communities.

Habitat Trinidad and Tobago is pleased to share our latest Annual Report with you.

 

For the last  23 years, we have empowered many citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to achieve a better quality of life through safe and affordable housing.

 

Since 1997, we have served 877 families with shelter solutions – new houses, repairs, renovations, completions – and trained 4,951 people. We have supported almost 25,000 people in their quest for
safe, decent, adequate and affordable shelter!

 

During the past year, we’ve been able to provide 130 shelter solutions, raised TT$5.9m in funding and facilitated 6,028 volunteer hours.

 

To see all of the highlights and accomplishments from the last year, please click here.

 

If you have any questions or comments, please share them with contactus@habitat-tt.org.

 

Click here to make an online donation to support our work. You can also donate through our Republic Bank account #180482534101.

Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to live. Help us!