Australian companies could play a key role in tackling a critical housing crisis across Asia, according to Habitat for Humanity Australia.
A new report released by the agency in Hong Kong last week warns the massive growth of cities in Asia means an additional 20,000 affordable houses are needed every day. It reveals that 1 in 5 of Asia’s 4.3 billion people is already living in slums and other substandard conditions.
The report says corporations could fill a growing gap in government funding, by forming public, private and people partnerships to build new affordable housing stock and to create new financial mechanisms for the poor.
“Australian companies with a footprint in Asia, especially those in the design and planning, financial and construction sectors are well positioned to forge these new partnerships,” CEO of Habitat for Humanity Australia, Martin Thomas, said from the launch of the report in Hong Kong.
“The opportunity for companies to make profits from social investments and partnerships is immense.
“The Australian government’s aid policy, with its focus on a greater involvement of corporates in the nation’s aid program, also puts national companies in a prime position to forge new partnerships with the region with governments and not-for-profits.”
Habitat for Humanity is the world’s largest not-for-profit housing provider for low-income families in need.
The report, Opening the door to improved lives: Tackling inadequate housing in Asia-Pacific, highlights eight future trends that will shape the Asia-Pacific housing sector.
It highlights the growing emergence of corporate social responsibility spending by Asian companies. Earlier this year, for example, the Indian government passed a law requiring companies of a certain size to invest a mandatory 2% in these activities. This will release billions of dollars in new money to benefit partnerships with Australian firms with property and community development expertise.
And an emerging trend for philanthropy by high net worth individuals across the continent is opening up new opportunities to make housing and financial products available to the poor.
The report also flags the great role of volunteering as a factor that could be leveraged to reduce housing costs in poor communities.
Habitat for Humanity helps provide housing for low income families in need. It has served more than 4 million people worldwide and builds, renovates or repairs a home somewhere in the world every four minutes.