So far in our series on the overlap between housing justice and environmental justice, we explored emerging disparities in access to energy-efficient housing as well as disparities in the urban heat environment that have been cemented by decades of development patterns informed by discriminatory policies. These examples of interwoven issues highlight that, as a housing organization, it is important that we recognize the impact that the planet has on our work while also recognizing the impact that our work has on the planet.
Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity is one affiliate of a broad network of organizations working in over 70 countries under the umbrella of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI). In our third and penultimate installment of our environmental series, we want to share a broader look at the perspective of Habitat for Humanity International on climate change and the way it impacts the global vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Here is their powerful position piece: https://www.habitat.org/about/climate-change-position
If you are unable to read the whole thing, here is a synthesis of HFHI’s position:
Put simply, the global housing crisis is being grossly exacerbated by the unprecedented global climate crisis, as those most vulnerable in their housing are also those most vulnerable to natural disasters and other impacts of climate crisis.
But ironically, at the same time, HFHI also acknowledges that buildings and the development of housing exacerbate climate change. Buildings and their development make up nearly 40% of global carbon emissions.
“In this context, Habitat for Humanity International has the potential to impact — and be impacted by — the future of climate change. We believe that adequate and affordable housing can be built sustainably and will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by all of the United Nations member states in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
With this in mind, HFHI is committing throughout the world to build using local resources, to build using sustainable resources, to build housing that is energy efficient, and also to keep items out of landfills by facilitating their reuse. HFHI is also committing to engage even more with global policy advocacy, recognizing that gains made in increasing adequate and affordable housing throughout the world are quickly being reversed by climate change.
“As part of all this work, we emphasize equity and inclusion to ensure that the most vulnerable members of a community are integrated in defining the housing needs and realizing solutions for their communities. With these resources, those communities can prioritize their own housing needs, disaster preparedness and climate adaptability for a more sustainable future…Our commitments are rooted in our pledge to be accountable to the families with whom we partner and the communities we serve, to be courageous and do what is right even when it is difficult, and to be humble in understanding that we cannot win this fight alone. These are the values on which our organization is built. Just as families must adapt to a changing climate, so too must our programming and operations evolve in order to address the housing needs of people around the world.”