HFHM has adopted a livelihood-based strategy, working with communities that are cash poor, but rich in other resources that can help them to meet their housing needs. The program is sustainable and ensures that poverty reduction is achieved, by keeping house costs affordable for families in need. There are plans to expand into new communities, whilst continuing to lower building costs.
The program applies traditional vernacular architecture, using appropriate, locally produced materials from renewable sources. Families are given a choice of materials from which to construct their house, enabling them to build according to their needs, aspirations, and capacities.
The houses measure between 15 and 40 sq. meters and usually comprise of 2 rooms, often used as a living room and bedroom. A 3rd smaller room is an option and usually used as a kitchen. House foundations are made of stone or fired clay bricks and then covered with concrete floors, while the walls are made of clay brick and mortar. Clay tiles or thatch is used for the roofs and windows and doors are made of local wood. A pit latrine is built outside the house.
HFHM considers local labor, whether paid or voluntary, to be a valuable resource. The community joins together in building homes for one another, in accordance with Malagasy culture of helping yourself and your neighbor. Moreover, local artisans, thatchers, brick-makers, and masons earn wages with which to feed their families, pay school fees, and fund health care. The income they receive has a knock-on effect throughout the community.