Honduras, a Central American country with a population of over 8 million people, is one of the least urbanized countries in Latin America. However, it is also among the region’s most rapidly urbanizing countries. With such a high urban growth rate, Honduran cities are struggling to meet the housing demands of the growing number of urban residents and living conditions are poor.

Many of these cities have already put in place social housing programs in an effort to assist low-income families; however, these programs tend to put more emphasis on short-term social housing projects, rather than long-term policy change. This means that barriers to land access continue to keep families from owning homes or accessing decent and affordable housing.

To address these concerns, Habitat for Humanity Honduras is eliminating barriers to land access by advocating for the formulation and adoption of improved housing and land policies.  Specifically, they are applying a demonstrated model of successful policy reform one municipality at a time.

As a first step in this project, Habitat Honduras identified numerous barriers to accessing land for shelter within the country. With a specific focus on policies affecting housing and access to land, they were able to diagnose a total of 28 issues that must be addressed in the creation of a local land policy.

Habitat Honduras follows a few basic steps in order to achieve policy change at the municipal level. After engaging civil society and local government in each municipality, they form a diverse commission to review existing policies and develop recommendations to improve those policies. After the policies are negotiated and approved, Habitat Honduras doesn’t stop there. The next phase of the project involves implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the progress of the new policies and their impact on the community.

To date, Habitat Honduras has successfully approved policies in 126 municipalities and counting.  Habitat Honduras continues to apply this model in municipalities around the country in hopes of achieving their goal of improving access to land for shelter for two million families – and that goal is within reach.  A case study of ten municipalities that had approved the new policies showed a total increased investment in housing by US$1.93 million reaching nearly 23,500 people.

Just like Habitat Honduras, you too can take action with Solid Ground to increase land access around the world so that more people will have a decent place to live.