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 at the first World Congress of the Union, which was held in London in August of 1914 at the initiative of the British Building Societies Association and the United States Building and Loan League. A wide and global attendance from countries in which deposit-taking institutions dedicated to the home loan business – be they called building societies, savings and loans, or bausparkassen – were operating at that time was expected. However, there were delegates from only three countries; 19 from Great Britain, 18 from the United States; and two from South Africa. The sparse attendance was attributed to the fact that the meeting convened just at the beginning of World War I.
After the war, the international spirit continued to exist, the membership based increased and further congresses were held in Philadelphia, London, Salzburg and Zurich, but World War II stooped the further dynamic development of the International Union. After World War II, the Union grew significantly. With international travel becoming speedier and easier, the attendance at the congresses grew from a few hundreds to thousands and more. More members joined the Union, and in th1980ies the Union had members in more than 60 countries in the world.
The importance of housing finance cannot be overestimated: 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. Today, a wide arrange of actors is committed to bring housing finance forward. The current name of the International Union reflects this – it welcomes any institution or individual that is materially engaged in housing and/or housing finance.
For a complete list of Presidents and Secretaries General of the Union, please click here.