What is World Habitat Day?

Since 1986, the United Nations has recognized World Habitat Day on the first Monday in October. It's a day to reflect on the state of our cities, and on the basic right of adequate shelter for all. The theme for 2017 is Housing Policies: Affordable Homes with the aim of expanding the availability of housing to those who cannot currently afford it.

Why do we need World Habitat Day?

What do you think of when you think of home? Is it the smell of homecoming? The feeling of warmth radiating from a fire? The comfort of our own bed? Safety? Security? Certainty?

If you grew up the way I did, with consistent housing, home is probably associated with a number of positive feelings related to the stability of having a solid roof over your head.

It is estimated that worldwide there are no less than 150 million people without homes. Around 1.6 billion may lack adequate housing. Inconstant definitions of these terms make a precise number elusive, but it is clear that housing is a major international problem. This problem has grown as populations shift away from rural areas and into cities.

For those who are homeless or are without adequate and reliable housing, the word home may invoke feelings of longing and sadness. Without adequate housing, a person must worry every single day about where they will sleep, eat, and live. This strain interferes with every element of life. Therefore, the UN has declared adequate housing a basic human right. As part of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN aims to attain housing policies and affordable housing for all. Urban October has all the information you need to be a part of World Habitat Day.

The goals for World Habitat Day are:
  • Raise awareness about the need for housing policies and affordable housing for all in urban areas, towns and cities.
  • Develop processes and tools to advocate for access to housing for the poor and vulnerable groups.
  • Contribute to policy dialogues that focus on the broad range of conditions that constitute affordable housing.
  • Identify key stakeholders and engaging them in discussions that offer solutions to sustainable development.
    Contribute to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
6 ways to participate in World Habitat Day:
  • Draw attention to the World Habitat Day and its theme. Highlight the challenges and issues around Housing Policies and Affordable Housing, especially with regard to poor and vulnerable groups.
  • Raise awareness through mass and social media: press articles, radio, and television, newspapers, exhibitions, etc.
    Local authorities and governments may publicly launch their programs and policy strategies on affordable housing.
  • Organize fundraising, recreation or entertainment activities like sports or cultural events to make visible the lack of affordable housing in your city.
  • Organize high-level meetings and discussions with national, regional and local governments on the theme towards the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Promote #HabitatDay #UrbanOctober and #NewUrbanAgenda on your posts and tweets.
  • Donate to the Youth Homelessness Fund, a Community Impact Fund of the Greater Houston Community Foundation. Established in 2013, the fund offers individual donors and foundations a strategic way to collaborate for catalytic philanthropy.


Original contribution by Clarissa Coburn.