I would like to congratulate everyone with World Habitat Day!

It is designated by the United Nations to take place on the first Monday of each October, and this year’s theme “Better City, Better Life” focuses on the vision of sustainable urban development and creation of a home for people everywhere in the world.

The official message from the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and this year’s theme highlight challenges of urban poverty and the means by which local governments and the private sector can combat issues such as lack of fresh water, poor educational facilities, public safety concerns, corruption and environmental degradation.

In related news, Habitat for Humanity International has recently announced that it will be establishing a MicroBuild Fund to provide capital to microfinance institutions around the world that offer small loans for housing improvements. Habitat’s goal is to raise $100 million for MicroBuild, and the first $25 million was pledged by its CEO Jonathan Reckford at the Clinton Global Initiative in late September.  According to the press release on Habitat’s website:

“There is a staggering need for basic and decent housing in developing countries where families may only live on a dollar or two a day,” said Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. “By developing the MicroBuild Fund, we will be able to serve even more families by making financing available for housing improvements on affordable terms.”

Here in Western Ukraine, Habitat for Humanity has already been partnering with HOPE Ukraine for the past few years providing housing loans at very favorable rates. These loans are primarily targeted at low-income individuals, require proof of income, and are from 12 -18 months in duration. In Vinogradovo, Habitat loans have been very popular and account for about 30% of the total portfolio.  Approved loan uses include apartment renovations, window and front door replacements, roof repairs of private houses, installation of heating systems and plumbing repairs.

A few pictures from my recent trip to Vinogradovo (Vynohradiv) – a wonderful city in western Ukraine, in Zakarpattia Oblast:

Click to view slideshow.

Margarita Salasyuk is a Fellow with HOPE Ukraine in Zaporozhye. She has been on the road for the past few weeks completing her borrower visits in Western Ukraine.  Zakarpattia Oblast is famous for its mushrooms and this lucky fellow got to go to the woods with a few kind loan officers!


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