THE LEGAL LITERACY INITIATIVE

THE LEGAL LITERACY INITIATIVE

Argentina
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Legal Literacy Initiative offers legal assistance to low income families living in inadequate housing conditions. Volunteer lawyers hold free courses within the slums, teaching families how to lawfully acquire title to and protect their property, giving them the sense of security they need in order to build stable, permanent homes on their land without the fear of being evicted.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In December 2001, Argentina suffered an economic collapse that left 58% of the population living below the poverty line. Currently, one third of the population lives in substandard housing. A major contributing factor sustaining this dilemna is the astronomical rate of untitled property indigent families live upon. Desperately poor people cannot afford to gamble with their meager resources by constructing stable, permanent dwellings that they may ultimately be deprived of due to lack of proper title. As a result of the economic collapse, scores of impoverished families migrated to the Province of Buenos Aires seeking work, and an informal community was created - a slum area called 22 de Enero. The province eventually granted these poor migrant families title to the parcels of land they occupied. However, the City of Buenos Aires soon thereafter filed suit claiming ownership of the land in question and a jurisdictional struggle between the City and the Province regarding ownership of the land ensued, placing the validity of the titles held by these families in legal limbo. These families do not have the resources to seek legal recourse to address this problem.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

This initiative supports the Social Production of Housing which ascribes value to the organic communal evolution that takes place throughout Latin America by building upon the functional housing mechanisms developed by communities, instead of replacing them. This innovative, low cost approach to the current housing situation maximizes resources by facilitating legal solutions that inspire beneficiary families to work towards completing stable, permanent homes, that meet basic habitability, hygiene and security standards, as opposed to living in squalid temporary shacks for fear that whatever they build will be knocked down or taken from them due to their lack of proper title to their property. In addition, the Legal Literacy Initiative is a community wide effort. Currently, HFHA ia working on securing the property rights of an entire slum area called 22 de Enero, to ensure that all of the marginalized families within that
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Since its inception in 2006, the Legal Literacy Initiative has conducted approximately 40 workshops attended by 550 families in offering legal housing solutions that produce systematic change and sustainable community development. The initiative has effectively stressed inclusivity and engendered leadership from within by promoting collaborative efforts between all interested parties including local businesses, beneficiary families and a broad spectrum of volunteer professionals all of whom benefit from the development of the communities they live and/or work in. A positive outgrowth of the initiative is its intensive social development component in that it serves to organize human energies and activities by i)invoking a sense of pride, dignity, and responsibility in property ownership ii)fostering a high level of commitment to work hard for something you own; iii)inspiring within the families, as formal stakeholders, a deeper commitment to construct stable homes; iv)promoting a greater understanding of the importance of becoming a titled property owner; and v)generating a sense of ownership that will engender strong support for surrounding community development programs long after HFHA completes its part.
About You
Organization:
Habitat for Humanity International Argentina
Visit website
Section 1: About You
First Name

Ana

Last Name

Cutts

Country

, B

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Organization Name

Habitat for Humanity International Argentina

Organization Phone

54 11 4760 5810

Organization Address

Esmeralda 3430, Florida Provincia de Buenos Aires

Organization Country

, B

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, S

Innovation
Do you have a patent for this idea?

Yes

Impact
Actions

The Legal Literacy Initiative is part of a larger social development construct called Habitat Tent. Habitat Tent is a series of targeted social development courses, like the Legal Literacy Initiative, social education programs, and financial services that increase access to adequate housing. The Legal Literacy Initiative is an educational course that covers the different legal aspects related to the lawful acquisition and protection of property, such as the various obstacles encountered when perfecting title and the benefits of becoming titled property owners. The program offers low income families with no access to legal recourse assistance with the completion and submission of related paperwork. Licensed attorney volunteers from local law firms and corporate legal departments assist in the planning and management of these workshops. The Legal Literacy Initiative has been highly successful in empowering families with the technical assistance necessary to obtain proper title to their property. The Initiative`s progress is challenged only by the lack of funding necessary to mobilize volunteer attorneys and cover the costs of the educational materials distributed.

Results

HFHA’s Program Development Unit will evaluate the success of the Legal Literacy Initiative one year after its completion by engaging beneficiary families in a comprehensive study addressing whether their overall living conditions measurably improved after achieving their respective housing solutions.

How many people will your project serve annually?

101‐1000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$50 - 100

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

If so, how?

By securing proper title and clean deeds for all of the land occupied by low income families in the slum settlement called 22 de Enero in the town of La Matanza, Province of Buenos Aires by way of a class action suit that will hopefully serve as precedent for other slum settlements throughout Buenos Aires.

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with businesses?

Yes

Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with government?

Yes

Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation.

HFHA implements its Legal Literacy Initiative via its local offices in Santa Fe and Buenos Aires in partnership with various local government agencies, organizations, and corporations, such as the law firm of Marval, O`Farrell & Mairal, the Concordia Foundation, the ProCultura Development Cooperative, and Citigroup among others.

The local chapters of many of our partner organizations have their finger on the pulse of the underserved communities we work with and often refer HFHI to areas in dire need of such projects as the Legal Literacy Initiative. Other partner organizations lend their expertise and professional services without charge to the families of the communities they all work and/or live in. This inclusive approach to a sustainable community development initiative such as Legal Literacy fosters solidarity among community stakeholders at all levels and forms a critical part in the longevity and strength of the initiative.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

HFHI monitors and evaluates each of the projects and initiatives proposed by Habitat for Humanity Argentina and partially funds those projects it approves. Otherwise, HFHA relies entirely on the donations it receives from family, friends, corporations, and local organizations.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

In 2005, Habitat for Humanity Argentina launched an “Impact and Sustainability” project aimed at addressing the country’s dire housing situation with community wide housing solutions that integrated systematic changes and sustainable improvements in the areas of economic stability, environmental awareness, home construction and home maintenance. In so doing, HFHA soon discovered that 92% of the prospective beneficiary families within the communities targeted did not qualify for the project because they lacked proper title and/or the deed to their land. It was at that moment that HFHA came to the realization that the success of any sustainable community development program was contingent upon the inclusion of an initiative that addressed property rights.

Tell us about the social innovator—the person—behind this idea.

The idea for the Legacy Literacy Initiative came from HPHA. Ana Cutts is HFHA’s Executive Director. Born in South Africa to missionary parents, Ana has over 15 years of experience managing humanitarian programs in the nonprofit sector. Ana studied in England where she received her B.A. from the University of Nottingham in (AÑO) and her Masters in Nonprofit Business Management from the University of Durham in (año). Thereafter, Ana began her professional career in Buenos Aires where she managed a daycare center for homeless children sponsored by the Anglican Church. Ana then aligned herself with the United Nations as a Program Consultant to the Economic Development Unit prior to working as an Official United Nations Liaison to their White Helmets Commission. As an Official Liaison, Ana spent 5 years managing and supervising humanitarian projects in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America. In 2000, Ana became the co-founder of the NGO, Microenergy, which focused on local micro-business development. In 2003, Ana was invited to oversee the opening of HFHA where she acts as the Executive Director. HFHA works in Santa Fe, Lujan, and Buenos Aires, building housing solutions and hope with families that live in inadequate conditions, underscoring the power of national and international volunteerism to develop impoverished communities.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Web Search (e.g., Google or Yahoo)

If through another source, please provide the information.

Approximately 50 words left (400 characters).

Additional
Which (if any) of the following strategies apply to your organization or company (check as many as apply)

Formalizing and documenting property rights (i.e. titling, leasing or certification), Legal education and awareness.

Please explain how your work furthers one or many of the above strategies (if you selected “other”, please explain your strategy)

The Legal Literacy Initiative is an educational program related to property rights, and securing proper title and legal deeds. The initiative has not only assisted marginalized families to secure legal title to their property, but has also enabled them to participate in many other HFHA Impact and Sustainability programs, all of which require proper title and legal deeds.

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