Dear policymaker,

Seventy-five percent of people around the globe lack proper documentation for the land on which they live. Without land, there can be no housing, and housing is key to stability and opportunity. To address this, Habitat for Humanity established the Solid Ground campaign, currently being implemented in 41 countries, to promote changes in land policies and systems to ensure that more people around the world have access to land on which they can build a home.

Solid Ground is improving land access policy through four key areas:

Secure tenure: Land ownership is foundational to improving living conditions. The majority of individuals and families around the globe do not possess recognized rights to the land on which they live, making them vulnerable to eviction. Security of tenure provides the stability necessary to ensure improvements to shelter can be sustainable and long-lasting, furthering greater development within communities.

Gender equality: Women represent half the global population, yet they own significantly less titled land than men worldwide. Women are excluded from accessing land because of discriminatory regulations and practices. We know that improving women’s property rights has a profound effect on their households, health, education and earning potential, and their communities. Women tend to share the benefit of improved tenure security among household members, which is especially important for creating a more stable environment for their children.  

Slum upgrading: One out of every 7 people on the planet lives in a slum, and, by 2030, the global slum population is expected to double to 2 billion. Increasingly, vulnerable communities are forcibly evicted and pushed to the edge of cities into unplanned and poorly serviced areas, lacking basic services such as water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. The key to sustainable urbanization is upgrading slums while ensuring security of tenure for these families.

Disaster resilience: Disasters affect approximately 188 million people every year. Communities without secure tenure live with greater risk. Many live in poorly constructed shelters in unsafe locations, and when fearing eviction, they are unwilling and often unable to invest in resilience measures. For fear of not being able to return to their land, unregistered residents may refuse to evacuate high-risk areas during disasters, endangering their lives in the attempt to hold on to their land. Disaster resilience enables communities to better prepare, respond and recover from disasters, predictable or otherwise.

Habitat for Humanity’s global advocacy campaign, Solid Ground, is improving access to land for shelter through secure tenure, gender equality, slum upgrading and disaster resilience. We are working to improve land policies and systems at all levels. We acknowledge the interconnection of global and regional policy frameworks, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; the New Urban Agenda; and the future Partnership Agreement among the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific states, with local and national land policies and systems around the world.  

I stand with Solid Ground to urge policymakers at all levels to promote policies and systems that increase access to land for shelter.

Together, our signatures amplify the voices of Solid Ground advocates working locally to demonstrate to decision-makers and key stakeholders around the globe that land and housing are a priority for achieving positive development outcomes for all.