Approximately 863 million people in the world (that’s almost a billion) have made their homes in slum conditions in 2014, according to UN-Habitat. Hundreds of millions are living in or near to garbage dumps. These dumps provide food for families, and also some small source of income as they can forage through the garbage and find items for recycling.
Peter Dupuis and Sid Landolt have been real estate developers in Vancouver for thirty years. They are well-known for their high-end real estate development projects all over the world. But, one day, when the housing market slumped, the pair found themselves with some extra time on their hands. Dupuis took advantage of it to pursue a Master’s degree, concentrating on the unique issue of housing for Canada’s urban poor.
One day, Landolt and Dupuis found themselves sitting on an airplane next to TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie. During the flight, Mycoskie explained the intricacies of his ‘one-for-one’ gift strategy. TOMS Shoes, a well-known retailer in America, donates water, shoes, birthing kits and vision repair to poor families for each item sold in its stores or websites. A light bulb went off in the minds of Dupuis and Landolt: hooked and inspired, they returned home and began to work on generating partnerships with other real estate development moguls and successful enterprises in Canada. A new concept was born—World Housing, the first one-for-one real estate gift model in the world.
World Housing’s founding purpose is “to create sustainable social change by building homes in garbage dump communities.” Dupuis and Landolt took the philanthropic principle of ‘one-for-one’ to the real estate market. Real estate developers are asked to donate $2,900 from the proceeds of each condo sold to go toward the construction of one home for a poor family living in a garbage dump slum. The first developer signed up last spring.
The gifted houses are simple, 130 square feet, well ventilated and with secure doors and windows, insulated to protect from heat and cold, constructed from metal to extend their lifespan, and sitting on stilts to protect residents from flooding and disease carrying rodents that live in the garbage. The houses provide some level of dignity and hope for a better future.
Since its launch two years ago, World Housing has built homes for almost 2,000 people, a total of 360 homes in garbage dump slums around the world. All construction is done by locally trained residents, and managed through World Housing’s NGO partners.
World Housing is creating safe and stable communities that become role-models for social activism and change, and serve as an inspiration to bring in more partners, builders, donations, and ultimately to build a system of community-based sustainability in the world’s poorest neighborhoods.