Lisa Hinely PO Box 4233
Nonprofit Technology and Management Austin TX 78765 USA
Habitat for Humanity Morelos, Mexico

HFH Morelos was started in 1993 with International Partner Daniel Lopez. He shared the vision, philosophy, and policies of Habitat with some community leaders, who passed the message to other communities. So far, Habitat has constructed over 200 houses in Morelos, providing more than 1500 men, women, and children with simple, decent housing.

Return to housing home page.

Overview of the state of Morelos
  • The state of Morelos is located in central Mexico, southwest of Mexico City. The capital is Cuernavaca.
  • About 40% of the people in Morelos in "extreme poverty", many of them in substandard housing conditions.
  • Official minimum wage is roughly $5 per day. As much as half the work force is in the informal sector, where wages may be even less.
  • As many as 1 in 3 households have someone working in the United States, where they can make more money to support their family.

Historical perspective
  • Morelos is the land of Emiliano Zapata, a leader for land reform in the Mexican Revolution. (The modern Zapatista movement in Chiapas is named after him.)
  • Indigenous communities have hundreds of years of history of cooperative projects such as irrigation systems. More recently, government programs such as Solidarity have provided grants directly to community groups for construction of infrastructure.
  • The Diocese of Cuernavaca has been a strong center for Catholic base communities, showing the influence of Vatican II and liberation theology.

Housing stock
  • Roughly 60% of the housing stock is "self-constructed".
  • Almost all construction is masonry - cement block, stone, and poured concrete for individual homes, and tilt-up for apartment buildings.
  • Substandard housing uses found materials, including wood, metal and hard plastic sheets, and plastic tarps. In rural areas, families may build walls of bamboo and branches, supporting a roof of pressed cardboard.
  • In urban areas, families typically use bottled gas for cooking, and municipal water and sewers may be available. In rural areas families may cook over a wood or charcoal fire, with an outhouse and water hauled from a community faucet.

Habitat for Humanity Morelos - How It Works
  • Habitat Morelos uses a chapter model.
  • Communities apply to Habitat to be a chapter. They must have at least 10 potential homeowners who own their own land, and who meet the criteria of need, ability to pay, and willingness to partner.
  • Habitat supplies the materials and helps arrange to borrow needed tools.
  • Homeowners work on each house in turn to complete one stage of construction for all the houses. Then they move onto the next stage.
  • The government assists with infrastructure, especially electricity and water.
  • A typical cost is 30,000 pesos (about $3,000), with a monthly payment of 300 pesos (about $30).

Habitat for Humanity's Tithe
  • All Habitat affiliates, worldwide, "tithe" 10% of their income to an affiliate in another country.
  • Austin Habitat has designated their tithe to Morelos, Mexico, for more than ten years.
  • Since the cost of construction is so much cheaper in Mexico, this means that for every house built in Austin, another house can be built in Mexico.

Get Involved!
  • Include Habitat for Humanity and the people of Morelos in your prayers.
  • Learn more about the tithe and Habitat's work at
  • Travel to Mexico with a Habitat work brigade. Contact HFH Morelos.

In May and June of 2003, Lisa Hinely visited the state of Morelos, in central Mexico, with the Center for Global Education. One of her areas of study was low-income housing. She is available to present these topics to your organization, in lecture format or as an interactive learning experience.