More on Housing

February 2, 2005

The housing problem is the type of problem that I thought this blog would be about when I started it, so I thought I would expand on what has been said in the comments after my post about the real problem of Venezuela was that it is 90% urban, and see if we can get a positive discussion going.


The number of families involved in agriculture is estimated to be around 500,000 families, contrast that with close to 4 million urban families. There is a shortage of around 1.7 million housing units for both segments. Now, letís define this, when I say 1.7 million housing units is the number of people that do not have their own home, even if their current home is simply a shack (rancho), it does not mean a ďgoodĒ home.


 


Independent of the fact that this Government is the one that has built the lowest number of housing units in any five year period of the last 46 years, the truth is that no Government in that period has made a systematic attack on the problem. By systematic I mean that there is not one single solution for the problem. The problem has to be attacked by strata. I donít know too much about the study group that had an integrated housing project for the country, but I have heard some of the ideas. Without quoting anyone in particular, I understand it went something like this:


 


1)      Spend Government resources at the lower level of the population by having a public housing problem to build housing for those at the  poverty level. This would be a direct subsidy to those that donít even have enough to eat or barely get by.


2)      At the next level, use the structure of municipalities to subsidize the improvement of housing in barrios. Give people living in the barrios title to their property and help them in improving their home and the infrastructure surrounding them.


3)      At the next level up, subsidize the down payment, but people would have to pay monthly payments according to their purchasing power.


4)      Finally, at the highest level, the middle class, create for them financial instruments that will make it feasible for people to finance their home, by drawing savings reviving the old mortgage bonds.


 


Unfortunately, the only level that has been attacked by this government has been 4) using the new debtor bill, which I do not think is reasonable, because it is simply a subsidy to the middle class, which is not precisely where subsidies should be focused. There has been a little activity on 2), but that is it, practically nothing on 1) and 3).

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