Natural disaster support for Asian homeowners

Three-year multi-country microsavings and financial education initiative will help low-income homeowners save to strengthen their homes

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Communities living in substandard housing in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are regularly exposed to natural disasters, such as flooding and typhoons, that can reduce their living standards and dash hopes of improving their quality of life. In a bid to boost the preparedness of communities facing these difficult challenges, Citi announced a $1 million commitment on September 7.

The Citi Foundation will partner with Habitat for Humanity, an international charity targeting housing poverty and homelessness, to launch an innovative three-year multi-country microsavings and financial education initiative. By providing savings products, financial education and construction technical assistance, the program aims to help 3,000 low-income homeowners save a total of $2 million to strengthen their homes against disasters.

"There are an increasing number of natural disasters in this region, and although Citi has a proud history of disaster response, we also understand the importance of disaster risk reduction," said Shirish Apte, CEO, Citi Asia Pacific, who said the bank is committed to developing a scalable savings model for poor communities in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, all of which are especially vulnerable to disasters.

Patrick McAllister, Habitat for Humanity International's Asia-Pacific housing finance director, said that the funding will enable the charity to work with savings institutions and provide housing support to enable low-income families to improve their homes. "Citi's grant will also allow Habitat to conduct research on savings for home improvement that will further benefit families across the Asia-Pacific region," he said.

Pamela Flaherty, Citi Foundation President and CEO, said that Habitat for Humanity's ambitions were in line with Citi's goal to increase the supply of financial products and services that improve and accelerate the financial inclusion of low-income individuals. "Through our 12-year partnership with Habitat for Humanity, the organization has proven to be a leader in providing housing and testing innovative solutions. We are confident that with Citi's continued support, Habitat for Humanity will implement and replicate financial inclusion efforts that have even greater impact."