Home / Media Releases / Wharton-Habitat for Humanity housing finance course to run prior to Asia-Pacific Housing Forum


Manila, 7 July 2015 – The unique Wharton-Habitat for Humanity housing finance course, key for financial service providers wanting to offer innovative housing finance solutions to low-income clients in Asia-Pacific, will take place in Hong Kong on 1 and 2 September 2015. Designed as a special collaboration between the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Habitat for Humanity, the one-and-a-half-day course will run immediately prior to the 5th Asia-Pacific Housing Forum.

“The majority of low-income families are not able to access social housing opportunities, nor do they have access to housing finance products, so they take on risky and costly informal loans, rely on savings or secure loans designed for microenterprise in order to build a decent home,” says Marja Hoek-Smit, founder and director, International Housing Finance Program, Wharton School, who will lead delivery of the course in Hong Kong.

“Lower-income families and those employed in the informal sector are often creditworthy and able to pay for a housing loan but finance options are simply not available to them because the perceived risks and cost of lending for affordable housing is considered too high.  Not only does this deprive millions of people of ways to secure their own home and condemns them to living in substandard shelter, but it means that developers, both for-profit and non-profit, are unable  to unlock the affordable housing market. This course is designed to help address this gap – coaching finance service providers and sharing best practice on innovative products and services that work for low-income clients,” continued Hoek-Smit.

For details on the Wharton-Habitat for Humanity housing finance course and information on how to register, visit aphousingforum.org.

“The Wharton-Habitat for Humanity housing finance course was first offered at the 4th Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in Manila in 2013. It was extremely popular and so we have teamed up with the Wharton School to offer it again in Hong Kong this year. It takes place immediately prior to the Housing Forum, allowing course participants the opportunity to stay on and also attend the Forum. Those completing the course will receive a joint certificate from the Wharton School and Habitat for Humanity,” said Rick Hathaway, Asia-Pacific vice president, Habitat for Humanity.

The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum is the region’s leading event for advocating affordable housing solutions and decent shelter for low-income families. Organized by Habitat for Humanity, the Housing Forum is a biennial conference that gathers together major actors engaged in developing and delivering sustainable solutions for poverty housing issues.

In 2015 the Housing Forum will take place simultaneously in four countries, with the main event in Hong Kong and satellite events in Delhi and Manila. Under the theme ‘Building Impact’, the forum expects to engage over 2,000 leaders and experts in the field of affordable housing, ranging from policy-makers, entrepreneurs, private sector businesses, academics and civil society players.

“The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum is timely, coming a year ahead of Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development that was last held in 1996. Habitat for Humanity has been elected to represent civil society in events leading up to and at Habitat III. Habitat for Humanity will use the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum as a way of gathering input from civil society in the region,” continued Hathaway.

The main event in Hong Kong will feature four different tracks: Building leadership – profiling organizations and individuals at the forefront of the fight against substandard housing; Impacting communities – examining the key elements of sustainable housing solutions; Building markets – exploring markets that low-income families use to meet their shelter needs, and Impacting society – bringing advocates and volunteers together to present insights on changing housing policy and sharing ideas to raise awareness of housing as a way out of poverty.

Note to Editors

For media inquiries, please contact Heron Holloway, +63 927 129 6742, hholloway@habitat.org. For information on the events and sponsorship opportunities, please contact +852 2520 4023, info@aphousingforum.org.

About Asia-Pacific Housing Forum 5

The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum is a biennial conference organized by Habitat for Humanity. In 2015, the Housing Forum’s fifth iteration, the main event will be held from 1-4 September in Hong Kong. It will bring together all actors engaged in seeking solutions to low-income housing issues that make business and economic sense. Three satellite events, taking place in India and the Philippines, will meet at similar times. All events will be coordinated through the Housing Forum theme of ‘Building Impact’. aphousingforum.org

About Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity International’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Anchored by the conviction that housing provides a critical foundation for breaking the cycle of poverty, Habitat has helped more than 5 million people construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes since 1976. Habitat also advocates to improve access to decent and affordable shelter and supports a variety of funding models that enable families with limited resources to make needed improvements on their homes as their time and resources allow. As a nonprofit Christian housing organization, Habitat works in more than 70 countries and welcomes people of all races, religions and nationalities to partner in its mission. Habitat has supported an estimated 2 million individuals in the Asia-Pacific region, where it has been active since 1983. To get more information, to donate or to volunteer, please visit habitat.org/asiapacific or follow us at facebook.com/habitat.

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