Breaking New Grounds: EDGE Certified Affordable Housing in Haiti
The Haiti Home Ownership and Mortgage Expansion (HOME) Program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), addresses gaps in both the demand and supply sides of the housing value chain in Haiti to create affordable housing. Through developing an incentive structure, including varied deployment of pay-for performance (P4P) principles, the program mobilizes the Haitian financial sector and property developers to lead in expanding and improving the market for housing finance products and infrastructure.
The program works with implementing partners, Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) and the Affordable Housing Institute (AHI), seeking to unlock liquidity in the Haitian banking sector to mitigate risk for participating financial institutions (PFIs) and developers, and enable low, moderate and middle-income Haitian households to gain access to affordable housing. The HOME Program challenges and assists PFIs, developers, and low, moderate and middle-income households to identify, articulate and implement these solutions themselves—acting as a facilitator in the process—but does not create artificial interference in the housing market.
To ensure that housing developments meet high environmental standards, HOME collaborated with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to enable partner developers to become EDGE certified. Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) is a green building certification system for new residential and commercial buildings, especially adapted to emerging markets. Under this partnership, HOME offers technical assistance on EDGE standards and provides environmental sustainability incentives to developers to cover the incremental costs of achieving the green building benchmark.
This program is timely, given that the 2010 earthquake destroyed 180,000 homes adding to the existing housing shortage, creating a backlog of nearly 300,000 units. USAID in close collaboration with the Government of Haiti (GOH) identified a number of fundamental constraints in Haiti’s housing delivery system. Against a backdrop of extreme poverty, the Haiti HOME Program helps address some of these constraints through the innovative uses of capital that have the additional benefit of addressing gaps, disruptions, weaknesses, or inefficiencies in Haiti’s delivery of either affordable homes or affordable housing financing.
Read more: An Introduction to Pay-for-Results in Development
Quarterly Update (September 2020)
In Q4 FY 2020 (July 1 to September 30, 2020), as the Haitian private sector continued to navigate highly unstable political and economic environment, accompanied by currency devaluation, the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated matters. While some developers have managed to revamp construction activities timidly and maintain the proper sanitation protocol during the pandemic, others were forced to cease most activities. Developer partners reported difficulties in the legal advancements of their projects, including bylaws and registrations, and concern about the pandemic affecting credit markets and the economy overall. HOME is working closely with partners to assess how COVID-19 is affecting their ability to continue producing planned results, with non-essential commercial activities coming to a standstill, and how P4P agreements can be modified to support developers with market interruptions and uncertainties.
To date, HOME has residential units under contract spread across six affordable housing development projects. As of September 2020, private capital committed by developers and financial institutions partners reached USD 37.4 million. Thus far, HOME has leveraged USD 25 million of these private funds in activities such as owner-led housing microfinance products, developer-led housing infrastructure investments, and mortgage products in return for USD 2.9 million in incentives.
The formal launch of the housing association is in progress. The formation of the association is a result of HOME’s effort to convene key stakeholders in December 2019 at their request, including commercial banks, housing developers, construction companies, and the Central Bank of Haiti who wanted to see more formal and structured collaboration of the sector. A second meeting was held for the steering committee to present recommendations of preliminary bylaws to govern the association. While activities froze for most of the previous quarter with COVID-19, the legal process to register the association has formally resumed in late June.
In this quarter, HOME is partnering with transaction advisor Delphin Investments, which will support partner housing developers in developing investment strategies. This activity will provide developers with tools and resources to raise investments through Delphin’s Caribbean Resilience Fund and benefit beyond the period of the HOME project.