IN THE LOW-SLUNG hills of El Salvador, building a house is not an easy task. The land is vulnerable to earthquakes, flooding, volcanic eruptions. The roads are rugged, electricity sparse.
For the past several years, New Story—a housing charity based in San Francisco—has built over 150 homes there, replacing tarps and scrap metal shelters with houses that have proper roofs and floors. It’s slow, painstaking work in a country where nearly a third of the population is without shelter.
About a year ago, the company wondered if there was a better way to build. In the three years since it launched, New Story had gathered the funding to construct 1,300 homes and had completed 850 of them—but that felt like a drop in a bucket. There are over 100 million people living in slum conditions.