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Promotional rate available for Wharton-Habitat for Humanity housing finance course in Hong Kong

by Heron Holloway | @HeronHolloway | Habitat for Humanity International
Tuesday, 11 August 2015 11:03 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

A promotional rate for the Wharton-Habitat for Humanity housing finance course is currently available. Designed as a special collaboration between the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Habitat for Humanity, the course will take place on 1 and 2 September 2015 in Hong Kong. The course precedes the 5th Asia-Pacific Housing Forum taking place from 2 to 4 September. 

“Thanks to generous sponsors, we are able to offer a promotional rate for the Wharton-Habitat for Humanity housing finance course. It was extremely popular when it was first offered at the last Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in Manila in 2013 and only limited places are available for Hong Kong. Course participants have the opportunity to stay on and attend the Forum,” said Rick Hathaway, Asia-Pacific vice president, Habitat for Humanity.

The course is key for financial service providers that want to offer innovative housing finance solutions to low-income clients in Asia-Pacific. Those completing the one-and-a-half-day course will receive a joint certificate from the Wharton School and Habitat for Humanity.

“The majority of low-income families are not able to access social housing opportunities, nor do they have access to housing finance products, so they take on risky and costly informal loans, rely on savings or secure loans designed for microenterprise in order to build a decent home,” says Marja Hoek-Smit, founder and director, International Housing Finance Program, Wharton School, who will lead delivery of the course in Hong Kong.

“Lower-income families and those employed in the informal sector are often creditworthy and able to pay for a housing loan but finance options are simply not available to them because the perceived risks and cost of lending for affordable housing is considered too high. Not only does this deprive millions of people of ways to secure their own home and condemns them to living in substandard shelter, but it means that developers, both for-profit and non-profit, are unable to unlock the affordable housing market. This course is designed to help address this gap – coaching finance service providers and sharing best practice on innovative products and services that work for low-income clients,” continued Hoek-Smit.

For details on the Wharton-Habitat for Humanity housing finance course and information on how to register, visit aphousingforum.org.

The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum is the region’s leading event for advocating affordable housing solutions and decent shelter for low-income families. Organized by Habitat for Humanity, the Housing Forum is a biennial conference that gathers together major actors engaged in developing and delivering sustainable solutions for poverty housing issues.

Prestigious names that will be speaking at the event this year include:

Ted Tozer – President of Ginnie Mae (GNMA), the US Government National Mortgage Association

Daniel Lam – Managing Director, Hong Kong Urban Renewal Authority

Mark Devadason – Head of Sustainability, Standard Chartered

Juan Du – Associate Dean (International and Mainland China Affairs), Faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong

Jonathan Woetzel – Director, McKinsey Global Institute

Renee Glover – former CEO, Atlanta Housing Authority; Chair, Habitat for Humanity International Board of Directors

In 2015 the Housing Forum event will take place in Hong Kong and satellite events in Delhi and Manila. Under the theme ‘Building Impact’, the forum expects to engage over 1,000 leaders and experts in the field of affordable housing, ranging from policy-makers, entrepreneurs, private sector businesses, academics and civil society players.

“The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum is timely, coming a year ahead of Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development that was last held in 1996. Habitat for Humanity has been elected to represent civil society in events leading up to and at Habitat III. Habitat for Humanity will use the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum as a way of gathering input from civil society in the region,” said Hathaway.

The main event in Hong Kong will feature four different tracks: Building leadership – profiling organizations and individuals at the forefront of the fight against substandard housing; Impacting communities – examining the key elements of sustainable housing solutions; Building markets – exploring markets that low-income families use to meet their shelter needs, and Impacting society – bringing advocates and volunteers together to present insights on changing housing policy and sharing ideas to raise awareness of housing as a way out of poverty.