New Web Portal for HOFINET
The IHFP and the World Bank Group agreed to launch a Web portal that would be the leading global source of information on housing finance-the Housing Finance Information Network (www.hofinet.org). The rationale for establishing an internet-based clearing house for data, information and knowledge in housing finance was the lack of standardized global information in this area. Yet, housing is a pressing concern in an increasingly urbanized world. The HOFINET portal is run by a non-governmental organization, affiliated with the Wharton School. The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group and FMO of The Netherlands committed to provide seed funding. The Wharton School provides its global expertise in the area and technical support for the portal. Marja Hoek-Smit, the director of the Zell/Lurie International Housing Finance Program, became its first director.
To date, the portal has information and data on more than 70 countries, of which 25 with extensive statistical data. Information is updated yearly and is expanded back in time to allow for time-series analyses. Hofinet expects to have extensive data for more than 60 countries by the end of 2012. Core information will be available for some 120 countries. The site has a research center that allows Excel downloads for cross country comparisons and multiyear data. It features an encyclopedia function covering major topics in housing finance and has a document library of well over 1000 selected works, a blog and a news page. Users come from more than 140 countries and are diverse in background (policy makers, housing and housing finance practitioners in public, private and non-government sectors, trade associations, researchers and students, journalists). HOFINET is currently preparing a fundraising effort to put the organization on a sustainable footing.