To the New Story Family,
Five years ago, I visited Nuevo Cuscatlan. We were getting ready to build our first community in El Salvador, and the conditions were awful. Kids were getting sick, which meant they couldn’t pursue an education or even play in a safe environment.
I remember meeting Heidi, a 13-year-old blind girl who had to walk up steep, muddy hills every day. I was heartbroken. I knew we could play a part in building a better life for this community – for Heidi.
I recently visited Heidi and her family. She is thriving in her home we built five years ago. She plays music and can easily walk throughout her community. Her family’s income has gone up, which allowed them to add two extra rooms and buy a motorcycle for transportation. This is our picture of success.
Five years after we built Nuevo Cuscatlan, people are healthier, dreams are coming true, and the community is flourishing. It’s proof homes provide multi-generational change. It also proves your generosity transforms lives.
People like Heidi are why we believe in doing things differently. It was a risk to build in El Salvador. It was a risk to pursue 3D printing. And now, we’re taking a new risk I’m excited to share with you in this report: micro-mortgage loans.
I’m convinced a better, more inclusive financing model we’re developing has the potential to change how families in poverty can access an affordable mortgage. We’re piloting a financial model that allows us to forever house a person for <$1,000. This is an incredibly difficult challenge, but I believe we can show promising traction this year because of the greatest asset you’ve made possible: our team.
We were conservative with our hiring during 2020, but we have now hired ten team members throughout the first half of 2021. Four of them are our first hires for our brand new Mexico office. Our team is growing, and our focus is sharpening.
We are on a journey to house 1M people in LATAM by 2030. We’ll continue to innovate and grow our team to make it happen. Thank you for empowering our crazy dream.
Heidi’s final words to me were how grateful she is for the life change she’s experienced and how she hopes others can have the opportunity to have a home. Thank you for providing that opportunity to Heidi and many more.
La Herradura, El Salvador
In 2019, we built 30 homes in La Herradura. Most of these families didn’t even have a tent to live in when we met them. They lived in a swamped area often flooded or filled with trash and bugs. Many families worked together to try to build homes for themselves, but it wasn’t affordable or safe. Then, a local church donated land for homes to be built by our team and local partners.
Two years after completion, the community is in amazing condition. There are new businesses, families have grown all types of fruits and vegetables, and a first-generation university student began her classes. People are taking care of their homes and each other.
La Herradura is now a close, caring community. But they have still had some struggles over the past couple of years. There was a legal battle for land rights. However, through our local partnership with Gente, every family is now an owner of their space. They are forever free from the fear of eviction and can pass their greatest asset down for generations to come.
Now that the community has gained legal ownership and they have had two years to see incomes go up, they will begin making small payments towards their home. They’re thankful. Repayments give them a greater sense of ownership and build their family pride.
Our local partners will recycle the funds through the community by providing services such as nutrition support and cancer screenings.
One family of the community told us how it is important for them to stick with their commitments, and if one family has a problem with a single payment, the others will help. We’re proud of La Herradura and can’t wait to see how it continues to flourish for years to come.
We completed the 10th 3D printed home, making it the only community in the world of its kind.
Ahuachapán 1, El Salvador
Our local partners hosted nutrition and mental health workshops for the community.
Ahuachapán 2, El Salvador
Our partners surveyed the entire community to learn the benefits of having a safe home for two years. They also hosted a cooking skills workshop to help create job opportunities.
El Espino, El Salvador
The community held a move-in ceremony to celebrate their new homes!
Story of Impact
Meet Douglas Eduardo Menjivar from El Salvador
Douglas has worked with Michelle Sol, the Minister of Housing in El Salvador, since her days as Mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán five years ago. He manages surveys and communications with families we support, starting with our very first community in El Salvador.
Little did we know, as he was working to bring his neighbors into the new housing community, he was also living in the same conditions. He never asked to be part of the program or impose himself as a person needing a home. But once our partner, Gente Ayudando Gente, found out, we surveyed and qualified him to receive a new home. He recently shared with us his excitement.
“My experience working with families through Gente has been beautiful. I have listened to each one of their stories and experiences. Working together as a team has been the coolest thing that has happened to me in this project. And now I feel happy to have a decent, safe house to share with my family and create super special moments as part of this project.
In my current house, where I am living right now, it gets wet there. My house is made of sheet metal, and it is a challenging experience. Every winter, the house will hold water, and everything gets wet and damaged. And now I’m going to have a decent house, and I feel very happy for my family and my new neighbors. For me, all of the people who will get houses in Nuevo Cuscatlan 2 will be like family, and we will share every day together. This new house has changed my life, and I’m so grateful to help other families get a new home.”
Hurting with Haiti
Committed to Titanyen
Together, we funded a community in Haiti for 300 families who live in makeshift homes as a result of the devastating 7.0 earthquake in 2010. More than a decade later, scrap metal, worn tarps, and eroding wood panels are all they have to keep them safe.
After years of construction obstacles due to riots, political protests, a global pandemic, hurricanes, and more, families are closer than ever to moving into their community. Over the past few months, we’ve been extremely encouraged by the progress on the ground. Families were close to claiming their new homes.
Then, this month, the president of Haiti was assassinated.
While there is a lot to be determined about the effects of this tragic event, we know those who are impacted most deeply are the beautiful, joyful, and resourceful people of Haiti. We are mourning with them.
We are sad about the loss of life. We are heartbroken for the families who are experiencing another delay in receiving their safe homes. We are anxious about the safety of the 750 families we know and love who are already in a home. We are frustrated by the power struggle over who has legal authority to govern right now.
While we don’t know what the coming months will look like in Haiti, we do know this: We are committed to the families of Titanyen. We will finish building this community. And together, we will celebrate.
Thank you for your patience and commitment to Haiti.
For us to transform the social housing sector and catch the growing problem of homelessness, we have to do things differently. 3D printing was a way we chose to build differently. Hosting inclusive design workshops is a way we design differently. Now, we’re pursuing an innovation to finance differently.
After six years in the housing industry, there’s one thing we know for sure: homelessness is a ridiculously expensive problem to solve.
Our partnerships and investments in R&D have reduced the cost of construction. We’ll continue to cut those costs. But to radically transform the affordable housing market, we know we have to think beyond just building the homes. We have to innovate access to mortgage financing.
We’re piloting a financial model that allows us to forever house a person for <$1,000.
We’ve learned a model where families pay an affordable price to own their home works best. It creates ownership, but it also financially benefits the families by creating a credit history they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Since a home allows families to increase their income, they have the means to pay back a loan. But they’re often shut out of traditional loaning options because of the lack of banked credit history, and extremely predatory lending offers up to 100% in interest rates.
This is why we’re working to provide micro-mortgages to families who need them. Here’s how:
The family pays 10% of the home cost as a down payment. New Story philanthropy pays for 40%. We will provide the remaining 50% as a micro-loan to be paid back.
As a donor, pairing philanthropy with loans means your impact increases nearly 3X. This creates massive possibilities for building more homes more quickly.
We’re most excited to see how this model can impact the entire housing sector. By proving that the families in this demographic have creditworthiness to get a loan for a low-cost home, there’s an opportunity to unlock capital that will allow millions to have life-changing housing.
Together Again at Summer Summit
Our team recently gathered together for the first time since March 2020. At the Summer Summit outside Atlanta, we welcomed our ten new hires of 2021, gained clarity for the year ahead, and had a lot of fun.
A highlight was seeing our brand new Mexico City team share their work. They’re leading the charge of field operations and helping us understand the Mexican housing landscape better than we ever have. (Another highlight was putting on our own Summer Olympics, which included intense competitions full of beach balls, cartwheels, and water.)
It was hard to have a hiring freeze for much of last year. But we’re so grateful we can get back to building a talented and passionate team. Thank you for growing our team so we can move our mission forward faster than ever.