The International Union for Housing Finance was established in 1914 under the name of International Union of Building Societies & Savings and Loan Associations. This name remained unmodified until the early 1990s, when it became the International Union of Housing Finance Institutions. However, by the late 1990s the name was changed to the current International Union for Housing Finance.

The Union was created as a non-profit trade association following the first World Congress of the Union, which was held at the time the first worldwide meeting of mortgage credit institutions in London in August 1914. Even though the organisers had hoped for delegates from 14 countries, delegates from only three countries participated: the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa. This is perhaps not so surprising given the fact that the World Congress took place a month after Wold War I began.

However, since its modest beginnings, the Union has grown significantly. The Union currently comprises 104 members that cover 49 countries from all continents. This is a clear indication of the fact that housing finance has become increasingly important, not only in terms of the weight it has in countries’ economies and in its expanding geographical coverage, but also with respect to acknowledging the benefits that housing finance has to offer in helping to meet various human and social welfare objectives.

The growing importance and interest in housing finance has been demonstrated by the near unbroken series of World Congresses that the Union has held since 1914. The only period where none were held was during World War II. However, ever since the mid-1950s there have been World Congresses nearly every other year. The latest meeting, the 31st World Congress, was held in Cape Town, South Africa, in November 2019.

For more information concerning the history of the Union, please contact the Secretariat.

For a complete list of Presidents and Secretaries General of the Union, please click here.