IFC, IBRD, and Wharton School Launch Comprehensive Web Portal to Support Housing Finance Sector
Washington, D.C.—IFC and IBRD, members of the World Bank Group, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania today launched a Web portal that is designed to be a leading global source of information on housing finance. The Housing Finance Information Network Web portal (www.HOFIN.net or temporarily www.HOFINet.wharton.upenn.edu) will provide an accessible platform for trusted information on housing finance and support the development of the sector.
The portal, to be run by a nongovernmental organization, will bring together IFC, IBRD, the Wharton School, and other donors. It will consolidate housing finance information and knowledge, with an emphasis on emerging markets and developing countries. The portal will encourage the sharing of detailed country case studies, innovations, and best practices in housing finance, and the distribution of relevant research. IFC and IBRD will provide content for the portal, and IFC will also provide seed funding. The Wharton School will provide its global expertise in the area and technical support for the portal.
Marja Hoek-Smit, Director of the International Housing Finance Program of the Wharton School, said, “Expanding housing finance systems requires a dramatic increase in the number of professionals with the right skills and knowledge. There is a great need to engage with and support professionals in the many countries where the sector is developing rapidly and to provide them with a platform for sharing information and experience. The Housing Finance Information Network will help mobilize resources for scaling up housing finance.”
James Scriven, IFC Director for Global Financial Markets, said, “As the world rapidly urbanizes, slums and substandard housing proliferate. Tackling this problem requires creating housing finance systems that can mobilize domestic entrepreneurial and home investment capital. The industry has a wealth of experience but lacks a centralized information base. Our vision is to consolidate global housing finance information and knowledge into a Web portal that is accessible to policymakers and practitioners around the world.”
Loïc Chiquier, World Bank Program Manager for Housing Finance, said, “Housing finance systems are on the rise in a number of emerging economies, but owning an affordable unit remains a challenge for many people. The new portal will help develop sound and accessible housing finance markets by providing critical and accurate information and enabling professionals from around the world to exchange experience and ideas.”
The Housing Finance Information Network portal is expected to be fully operational by September 2008. It will cover 35 subjects in housing finance and more than 40 countries by 2009. The portal is expected to attract a broad range of users, including policymakers, housing and housing finance practitioners (public, private, and nongovernment sectors), trade associations, researchers, students, and journalists. The Web site will be updated frequently, and it will feature blogs and discussion forums. The legal work to establish the portal was provided by the law firm Arnold and Potter on a pro bono basis.
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