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Natalia Martínez, from Fundació Habitat3, reflects on the impact winning Gold in the 2019 World Habitat Awards has had on her organisation, through World Habitat exChange activity and other support.

Receiving the Gold Award in the 2019 World Habitat Awards has meant – for HÀBITAT3 – a fundamental recognition of our work (over five years) providing and managing housing for people in vulnerable situations.

Above all, it has been a stimulus for us to continue advancing successful action and to identify new growth opportunities. This will include developing a model of social housing with support, innovation and transformation, which puts people at the centre and empowers them, providing opportunities for their reintegration into society, and through collaboration with other social entities, public administrations, owners, companies and private institutions.

The World Habitat Award has also highlighted our role as a key promoter and agent that identifies, promotes, and channels the resources, experiences and knowledge of different actors to achieve the common goal of providing decent and affordable housing for the people who need it most – and guarantee specialist support to that people can, from housing, develop their independence and future lives.

This Award came to HÀBITAT3 at a time when we have matured and are about to take a leap forward. It gives us opportunities to become more visible abroad and take time for internal reflection to address a new phase of consolidation and improvement.

The exChange activity associated with winning the Gold Award was held in a series of virtual ‘exChange’ sessions with several international organisations – co-ordinated by World Habitat. This activity contributed to a process of internal reflection on different aspects of our organisation, which had already begun but has since been reinforced through shared learning and the exchange of experiences. This has led us to make organisational changes, expand our resources and develop our strategic plan.

The reflections with other organisations allowed us an overview of the different housing supply options and has reinforced our priority of obtaining owned homes, as a sustainable strategy both for tenants and our finances.

In the exchange sessions, the key elements for the provision of housing were outlined: financing, communication, and staff.

  • Focus on fundraising to cover costs of housing provision and support services.
  • Reinforce our message and optimize communication channels.
  • Strengthen the team and motivate it throughout the process of our growth and consolidation.

Since we started as an organisation, we have developed our external communication and, despite very limited resources, our impact has been very high. Winning the World Habitat Award has had a clear impact on our visibility and on disseminating our model of social housing with support.

In the exChange sessions with World Habitat, the importance of maintaining a critical attitude and regularly analysing the relevance of each of our projects and all our activity – in relation to our mission – was highlighted. We must be conscious of what we really want to achieve in the long-term and to what extent our current activity is aligned or not with that objective.

In 2021 the Hàbitat3 Board of Trustees have approved the development of a three-year strategic plan to address the new opportunities and challenges that arise. During the first quarter of 2022, the plan will be finalised, including the strategic objectives, the priority lines of action, and the actions to be carried out over the next three years.

World Habitat has accompanied Hàbitat3 through a process of growth and reflection through providing opportunities for communication, team-spirit, analysis and reflection.

The original evaluation visit, that World Habitat undertook, highlighted the importance of our network, and made us – and the different agents involved – aware of the value of the innovative and transformative component of our work. It provided us with a shared space for analysis and reflection. Undergoing an external assessment and the need to explain what we do gave us the opportunity to delve into its different aspects. At the same time, it strengthened the links between the different organisations and teams through meetings with social entities, representatives of the local and regional administration, sponsors, tenants, and community entities.

The Gold World Habitat Award and its presentation at the World Urban Forum was a milestone for HÀBITAT3 – increasing our visibility and reinforcing our position as a relevant part in the field of social rental housing and as a key agent in the alliances between public, private and social organisations.

The exChange activity has put us in contact with other organisations to share objectives and aspects of our methodology, while offering different perspectives as they face similar challenges and develop diverse solutions. The World Habitat exChange sessions have enriched our reflection and given us a broader vision.

Two years ago, HÀBITAT3 was on the verge of a change, perhaps without us being fully aware, the Gold World Habitat Award has been a catalyst for that transformation and helped us define the roadmap needed to address the opportunities and challenges that are presented to us.

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