Following the successful completion of Project Panama, the Global Housing Foundation ("GHF") in partnership with UN Habitat hosted an exciting gathering at the United Nations in New York City. Bringing together a select group of top international influencers within the global real estate community as well as other industries, the event helped GHF identify opportunities to advance industry knowledge and further the discussion on the importance of housing for the working poor throughout the world. "The goal of the program aligned with our mission which is to encourage private and public citizens to come together and establish innovative partnerships which will enable us to facilitate the continued development of housing for those who are economically disadvantaged," explained Global Housing Foundation President Sharon Young.
Keynote speaker for the UN Day event was Ellis Henican, a Pulitzer Prize Winner, columnist with the global Metro papers, a popular commentary on media outlets including CNN and the bestselling author of a dozen books. Henican commented that according to UN Habitat, in 2010, almost 980 million urban households lacked decent housing. It is estimated that this number will increase another 600 million between 2010 and 2030. In fact, in developing nations, one out of every four households live in poverty. It is estimated that one billion new homes will be needed worldwide by 2025 costing an estimated $650 billion per year, or $9-11 trillion overall. This makes housing for the working poor a vital and essential topic of conversation. "It is our moral responsibility to explore opportunities and seek solutions for the lack of workforce housing. What the Global Housing Foundation is committed to can reshape the future of the world," he explained. "The security of owning an affordable home translates to financial security, improved family conditions, healthier environments and ensures we can build a stronger foundation for future generations to grow and positively contribute to," he continued. Henican outlined 5 ways that leaders in the room could mobilize to make a significant difference and along with the principals of the Global Housing Foundation led a lively discussion with cutting-edge ideas that coincided with the luncheon theme.
Another industry expert and speaker was Peconic Bay Medical Center's Infectious Disease Expert, Dr. Sandeep Gandhi who discussed "Why Housing is the Best Medicine to Improve Health." Dr. Gandhi touched upon his global expertise with infectious disease and his experience about how lack of adequate housing not only drains community resources but also has a long-term negative impact on both physical and mental health within a society. This is especially true for those who are most vulnerable -- the elderly, the young and those with disabilities. "Decrease of health issues/problems within a population is directly and indirectly influenced by access to a safe, clean and secure home," he explained. Dr. Gandhi also answered questions about types of diseases which can occur when a natural disaster takes place and how secure housing can minimize those effects.
Global Housing Foundation's Panama Project is its most recent success -- completed in partnership with the United Nations and in alliance with the Grupo Shahani in Panama. The construction of these homes for the working poor in Panama successfully addressed three of the UN Habitat Directives (Initiatives):
The Global Housing Foundation is a 501(c)3 launched in 1999 when its founder and United Nations Scroll of Honor recipient, René Frank took up a challenge from the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements (UNCHS) as to why the private real estate industry did not do more to help solve the housing crisis around the world. The foundation's mission is, in conjunction with UN-Habitat, to bring together the resources necessary to create housing for the working poor. "Our commitment is to leverage the combined expertise and knowledge of global real estate industry leaders and spearhead the creation of solid partnerships between public, private, academic, community and governmental organizations to work towards a common goal of providing the working poor with the opportunity to owning a safe and affordable home," explained Global Housing Foundation Chairman Owen Gwyn. "We feel there can be no greater contribution to society than to transform a family and provide them with a strong and secure future," he explained.
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