The Need for Housing in Sri Lanka

Out of the 6 million families living in Sri Lanka, only 5.2 million have some form of housing. More than 800,000 families currently live in poor housing conditions with limited access to safe drinking and sanitation facilities.

Habitat for Humanity knows that a safe, decent, affordable home is fundamental to a family forging a path out of poverty. A house is not just a building. It is a home—a place that shelters, protects and nurtures its occupants. It supports their personal and professional development and offers a safe harbor.

Affordable Housing

Every day, more and more families find themselves in a struggle to keep a decent roof over their heads. Caught in punishing cycles of unpredictable rent increases, overcrowded conditions, or lack of access to land and affordable financing, these families live with a constant burden of uncertainty, stress and fear.

Habitat for Humanity knows that safe, decent and affordable shelter plays an absolutely critical role in helping families to create a new cycle, one filled with possibilities and progress. Affordable housing improves the quality of life of residents by leading to better health, adequate jobs, financial stability, security, and population diversity. It frees families and fosters the skills and confidence they need to invest in themselves and their communities. The effects of affordable housing can be long-lasting, life-changing and capable of transforming communities. 

With a little help, Habitat homeowners are able to achieve the strength and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves and their families. They are empowered to overcome the barriers that so often stand between their families and better, healthier, more financially stable lives.

Studies show that affordable housing improves the quality of life of residents by leading to better health, adequate jobs, financial stability, security, and population diversity. Wherever we work, we witness tangible evidence that strong and stable homes help build strong and stable communities.  Affordable Housing is not a handout. It is a necessity. 

Need for Affordable Housing in Sri Lanka

Since Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka first began its operations in 1994, the the housing deficit in the country has rapidly increased. Despite great advances made by the Government, INGOs and civil society organizations, research indicates that the lack of adequate housing is one of the biggest challenges faced by the communities in the North and East and people living in disaster-prone areas of Sri Lanka. As revealed in the Housing Needs Assessment of 2016, out of the 6 million families living in Sri Lanka, only 5.2 million have some form of housing.

A decade after the nearly 30-year long civil war ended in 2009, many families are still identified as internally displaced persons (IDPs), living in temporary shelters in the North and East of the country. It is estimated that one in two people living in the capital Colombo is a slum dweller who lacks adequate access to clean water and safe sanitation. The lack of decent housing for plantation workers is another area of concern. These poverty-stricken workers live in deplorable conditions, in temporary structures known as ‘line houses’ which have poor ventilation and no proper access to safe drinking water or sanitation facilities.

Sri Lanka’s official poverty line at national level (as at July 2019) – which is the minimum expenditure person per month to fulfill his/her basic needs, indicates that any person earning less than LKR 4,898 (USD 27) is considered to be living below the poverty line. In this context, it is estimated that nearly 800,000 Sri Lankan families are still in need of safe places to call home. This is the need Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka strives to address.

Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka is committed to reaching these impoverished communities through its varied program initiatives which focus on house construction, providing communities with access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities and effectively responding to disasters.

When individuals and families have access to stable, quality affordable housing, they can become part of a diverse community, find and keep jobs, lead healthier lives and take better care of their children. Housing,  is much more than just having a roof over one’s head, it is the hope and the possibility of a better life.