xChats May 2021

Affordable Housing Beyond Our Borders

Housing initiatives designed and implemented in different geographies, histories, and legal structures can help us rethink the box that often constrains our programs here in the U.S. In the spirit of HousingX, this virtual event introduced affordable housing providers in Virginia to housing practitioners and policy analysts from other countries.

Panelists & Slides

Dr. John Akudago, Habitat for Humanity International

Dr. John Akudago is a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene professional with a strong hydrogeological and environmental science background. John is passionate with water and sanitation related issues and their impact on health and the environment. This passion took him to work in Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands, Latin America and the Caribbean where he supervised the installation of over 1,000 water wells, spring catchments and construction of over 6,000 latrines. In the past 23 years, Dr. Akudago has contributed greatly to solutions to health, disaster management, poverty reduction, climate change, energy, education and food security across the globe. He is fluent in English with intermediate French and Japanese and seven Ghanaian languages. He has attended over 20 international conferences and contributed to many Journal publications.

Dr. Akudago holds a PhD and MSc degrees in Environmental Science from Okayama University, Japan and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Engineering from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.  He has more than 23 years’ experience in International Development and Disaster Risk Reduction and Response, and has collaborated extensively with many key players in the Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector. Dr. Akudago served on the Global WASH Cluster Technical Working Group to develop technical assessment tools for the WASH Cluster. Currently, he serves on WASH Campaign Advisory group of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) which aims to highlight the value of WASH among non-WASH audiences and influence country governments to take action on WASH issues. His core expertise include WASH, behavior change, waste management, water resources development and protection, climate change, and community development. He has experience in working in both development and humanitarian contexts where he provided technical advice and implemented projects in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in both rural and urban settings. 

Currently, Dr. Akudago is the Director for International Shelter Initiative at Habitat For Humanity International (HFHI). He also held various positions in several organizations including Samaritan’s Purse as a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Technical Advisor for their Global WASH Programs, Community Water and Sanitation Agency, Ghana as a Hydrogeologist, World Vision Ghana as a Hydrogeologist, and Pacific Institute in the USA as a Senior Research Associate. Dr. Akudago responded to some of the world’s most dangerous disasters as a WASH Technical Expert which include Haiti earthquake and cholera outbreak in 2010, Japan Tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011, Mozambique floods in 2013, Philippine Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, the West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014, Cyclone Palm (Vanuatu) in 2015, Nepal Earthquake in 2015, the South Sudan conflict between 2013-2017, Hurricane Maria (The Caribbean Islands) in 2017 and the Boko Haram crisis in Southern Niger.

Dr. Yu Chen, University of Toronto

Dr. Yu Chen is a postdoctoral research associate with the Centre for Global Engineering (CGEN)’s Sustainable Peri-Urbanization (SPUr) Initiative. He received his Ph.D. in sociology and M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on housing and urban development in Latin America and East Asia, from a community-based and comparative perspective. He has conducted ethnographic research in Mexico, Cuba and China.

Helen Collins, Savills UK

Helen has been a Director at Savills since 2012. She leads Savills Affordable Housing Consultancy and sits on the UK Board. Helen’s team provides a range of strategic and property consultancy advice to housing associations, local authorities, investors and developers.  

Helen’s career spans 30 years working senior advisory and delivery roles, Helen specialises in public/ private sector initiatives for growth, partnerships, and in asset optimisation. Recent projects include Homes England’s Strategic Partnership initiative, and delivery of a number of landmark affordable housing portfolio transactions. Helen is a Fellow and Former President of the Chartered Institute of Housing and a Professional member of the RICS and a regular speaker on the industry conference circuit.

Helen Harris, Ontario Non-profit Housing Association

Helen Harris is the Senior Manager of the Centre for Housing Excellence at the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) where she works with a team of dedicated professionals on policy, research and education initiatives to lead transformation in Ontario’s community housing sector. Helen has focused her career on community housing and has worked in a variety of policy-focused and front-line housing roles. Helen holds a B.A. in Psychology (Wilfrid Laurier University), a Master of Social Work degree (University of Toronto) and a M.A. in Public Policy and Administration (Ryerson University). She has also completed her Chartered Housing Professional Designation through the Chartered Institute of Housing Canada.

Event Sponsors

Virginia Housing
Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development
Virginia Governor's Housing Conference
Virginia Community Capital

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