Housing Is Key to Breaking the Cycle of Poverty


On a recent episode of “The Business of Giving” podcast, host Denver Frederick interviewed Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. During the interview Mr. Reckford underscored the foundational importance of housing as a key aspect of breaking the cycle of poverty.

Denver Frederick: As you know, housing is often overlooked when poverty is discussed, but the ripple effects of having a stable home – whether it be for the members of the family or the community itself – they really can’t be overstated. What are some of its impacts?

Jonathan Reckford: Housing, as you say, is so fundamental. It really is foundational for all the other things we care about. I’m always similarly surprised that it’s not higher on the priority list. What we really see – and the data is overwhelming – is the direct correlation that if a child grows up without proper housing, she doesn’t stay healthy, she doesn’t do as well in school, and therefore, has a very low chance of being self-sufficient. If you inject good housing in, it doesn’t solve everything, but we see much better health outcomes. Therefore, better educational outcomes. Therefore, the better the chance of being self-sustaining economically at the end of the cycle. We’ve seen over and over again families breaking that intergenerational cycle of poverty.

We really do think housing is a foundation; my growing hypothesis about why it hasn’t been higher on the list is in our increasingly economically segregated societies around the world, most of us can live our daily lives without seeing the way that our brothers and sisters in other parts of our same cities might be living. It’s not visceral in the way that we can all relate to health and education. But I think when you talk to someone who’s experienced poverty housing, after food and water, it is the most basic need in terms of creating a decent life.

Read the full transcript of the podcast interview here.


Because we believe housing is the foundation for wholeness, you are encouraged to join us at our next Community Quarterly Meeting on Homelessness, to be held on Thursday, Sept. 20 from 5-7 pm at Shiloh Baptist Church, 1211 South I Street, Tacoma. This is a free event but registration is requested – click here:

Download a flyer here.
Download bulletin inserts here.

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