What is advocacy?

Habitat for Humanity defines advocacy as “changing policies and systems to eliminate barriers to adequate, affordable housing in order to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” In other words, while not visible like homes themselves, laws, regulations and rules about land and building are a major part of housing. Smart policies and systems can promote access to decent housing, while uninformed policies and systems may create unnecessary barriers, making it harder than it needs to be to find land for construction, build the home itself or be able to afford a place to live.

To take an extreme example: if it became illegal to build a home for a family, Habitat for Humanity would not just shut down, our job would be to change the law to make building legal! That’s the essence of advocacy: not accepting shortcomings in current policy, but rather working to shape it in a way that supports people in need of adequate housing.

Habitat’s advocacy is based on decades of on-the-ground experience and policy expertise. Based on our deep understanding of housing and its role in ending poverty, we seek to reform laws in a nonconfrontational, nonpartisan way. Just like building, advocating for smart policies and systems is a way to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Why advocate?

In short, because it works! Habitat for Humanity has been building homes, communities and hope through direct engagement for nearly four decades. Habitat has served more than 1 million families since we were founded in 1976 and there is no question that our work has made an impact. But as powerful as that has been, some 1.6 billion people still live in poverty housing and another 100 million have no home at all. Worse yet, it is projected that by 2030, more than 2 billion will live in urban slums around the world. To address that level of need, the global Habitat for Humanity network must support public housing policies and systems that set the stage to end poverty housing; through advocacy, we can exponentially increase access to decent, affordable housing.

Advocating on behalf of those living in poor or substandard conditions is a priority for Habitat. We wholeheartedly believe that decent housing is essential in breaking the cycle of poverty. Habitat’s strategic plan reinforces those beliefs and emphasizes the need to advocate for the policies and systems that remove barriers to affordable housing.

*content from page used by permission from habitat.org