The Rise and Fall of Venezuelan Social Housing?

Venezuela has been going through political unrest that is testing all parts of the countries systems.  Everything from food to housing and public transportation have been affected by the issues taking place.  Social housing has not been spared from the rough times within the country.  An interesting dynamic is taking place between a massive social housing building effort and a corresponding effort to then privatize it all.

Give It All Away?

To understand the revolution of giving social housing away in Venezuela, we must appreciate a larger campaign that took place over several years.  Over 50% of the population live in makeshift villages or shanty towns as they are sometimes called.  A project called Mission Housing aimed to rehouse over a million inhabitants in better state built housing has come to realization over the last several years.  The government claimed that it met that goal and there are a lot of personal stories that back up the claim that many people were housed or re-housed.  The people who moved in were not charged any rent as it seems the government had not flushed out that part of the bureaucracy prior to tenants moving in.   Much like many European social housing models, people would not be pushed to move out if their incomes increased.  That is an interesting point because many countries including the USA have means tested rent that continues on and is checked every year.

A local politician aims to take this idea one step further.  They are considering giving the deeds to each apartment to the actual resident.  That would mean the resident would still continue to pay the government rent, but would have the right to sell that unit.

Major Worries and Concerns:

Some are concerned that this new model would cause people to have to take out mortgages to pay for their properties.  If the value of the apartment is set high, then the payment to the government would be just as high making it necessary for the social occupant to get a loan.   Many in country see this as a huge setback to the movement that has created a right to public housing in the country.  In late 2016, the political movement to privatize social housing was met with huge protests in the capital city.

The big fear is that instead of being houses that will always be in the public domain for those with need, that they will become units of the private market.  That worries many that they will just shift to the private market completely and reduce the number of social units available within the country.   We must understand that the socialist mentality for much of the population makes this idea of giving private deeds to residents inhabiting these units very unpopular.

Conclusion:

The building of social housing continues to happen and at an almost alarming rate.  Chinese money has helped develop a good deal of this housing so it will be interesting to see what type of long term plan is put into place.  The government will need to come up with a long term plan to keep up with capital costs without risking the loss of these social units to the private market. This delicate balance will not be easy in light of the especially dynamic social and political situations taking place within the country.

Major sources for this article are credited to

BBC- http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35689461

Venezuela Analysis: -https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/11843

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