Let’s all just agree on this one, at least: no one deserves to spend life atop a garbage dump, living hand to mouth by rifling through the refuse and waste of the better-off. Yet many do—120 million, in fact, according to World Housing, a Vancouver-based initiative that’s made it their mission to do something about it.
Founded in 2013 by business partners Peter Dupuis and Sid Landolt, World Housing teams up with high-end developers and builders, giving them access to a marketing database, as well as the right to affiliate their project with a good cause. In return, every condo that sells generates a contribution to build a home at a garbage dump community in Cambodia (now), or the Philippines or Mexico (later). Vancouver’s Westbank is World Housing’s first developer partner, and the Cambodian Children’s Fund is the NGO that World Housing has partnered with. In essence, what TOMS does for the shoeless, World Housing aims to do for the so-called “dump dwellers”.
By Canadian standards, the homes are pretty small—a mere 12 square metres. But what the design lacks in space it makes up for in smarts. Built of sheet metal, the home is well insulated and ventilated, and elevated to keep vermin away. It also includes a rainwater collector to provide a source of filth-free water. At a cost of about $3,000 per, its unlikely to make a manager choke when adding it to the marketing budget.
Every act of charity is a bridge—a link that joins those at the apex of privilege and those at the nadir. World Housing is making that connection explicit—at the exact moment when the world’s most fortunate take advantage of their good fortune. In so doing, the organization is raising a lot more than four walls and a roof. It’s raising consciousness. Which may be the most powerful gift of all.
Photos courtesy of World Housing.