Every family deserves to have a place they can call home

Sep 05, 2019 by Kelly Barnett
For the Guayacundo family in Tenjo, about an hour outside of Bogotá, Colombia, home is certainly where the heart is.

Until 2018, Libia Guayacundo lived in a small two-bedroom house made of tin and aluminum, along with her husband, son, and her parents. Despite having jobs and owning a small amount of land to grow vegetables that they can sell, it was unlikely that they would ever afford to build their own home. Like much of Latin America, Colombia has a severe housing deficit. Low-cost social housing for low-income earners tends to be very basic and not built to high standards, leaving the most vulnerable families with few opportunities for a good home. Despite being a close family, the lack of space and privacy made life very difficult for this young family and Libia’s parents.

Then, something wonderful happened. Habitat for Humanity joined forces with Azembla, a company that makes good-quality, low-cost PVC housing. Previously, the PVC housing had used concrete as a filler, until Dow Chemical discovered a more cost-effective solution using polyurethane. This substance is not only better for the environment, it is also recyclable. Dow, working with Vestolit, part of Orbia’s Polymer Solutions Group, created housing that is not only cost-effective to build and maintain, but can also be recycled seven times, giving 470 years of sustainability.

As this extraordinary partnership began, Pavco-Wavin entered the partnership to bring rainwater harvesting so people could store precious rainwater to grow food, and to provide water in their homes.

Quick to Build, Easy to Maintain, Cheaper to Run


In 2018, the first of these innovative houses was ready. It became home to Libia Guayacundo, her husband, and their son. Finally, the family had a home to call their own. Once the family moved into their home, life got even better with the arrival of one more child. Now they each had a room of their own. That may not seem like much but, for the Guayacundo family, it was more than they ever dreamed of.

The house can be built in two days, with no concrete and no waste. It requires no finishing, veneer, or painting – cutting down on construction resources and making maintenance much easier. Importantly, the insulation properties result in less use of energy which means less cost to the family on heating. Plus, it’s easy to clean, which helps keep away flies and mosquitoes.

“My children are now growing up in a sanitary environment, with more space and privacy, and above all, it’s ours.”

– Libia Guayacundo

Life has changed a lot for the Guayacundo family. They have their own space and, because they don’t have to pay rent anymore, they have bought furniture. Libia's relationship with her parents is easier now that they are not living on top of each other. Their son has a quiet place to study so his grades are improving, and he can have his friends over to play. These are simple things but they mean so much to a family.

“The house was so fast and easy to build, and there was no waste. It’s very hygienic.”

- Libia Guayacundo

Now, Habitat for Humanity and the partner companies are building a 120m² community space where children can take classes outside of school and the community can hold events. They also plan National Park Centers for rangers to sleep on site and provide an education center for visitors. To ensure that the buildings blend into the surrounding environment, the panels will be wood colored with green roofing.

Like the Guayacundo family, many others are longing to have an affordable house which they can call home. Affordable housing is not an easy goal, but these types of collaborations are what can make it a reality.