Mérida, February 14th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On his weekly television and radio show ‘Alo Presidente’ yesterday, President Hugo Chavez announced the creation of the Mision Vivienda Venezuela, the Mission Housing Venezuela, as a strategy to solve the housing shortage in the country.
The new mission is “aimed at solving the housing drama, which is only possible through the national union of the private and public sectors, private banks, public workers, honest entrepreneurs, and the Venezuelan people,” Chavez said on his show.
The mission’s strategy is based on five key areas. The first is a census to identify which families don’t own homes or live in precarious conditions. Chavez explained that this step was important because there were a lot of inconsistencies in the current information.
The second area is the compilation of a lands record of where construction is possible. The third involves finding out which construction companies of various types, including national ones and foreign ones, and communal council-run enterprises are willing to work towards housing solutions, and the fourth area involves evaluating the types of financing that the private sector offers. The fifth area is about knowing what material and technology are available and what are needed.
Chavez said this year US$ 6.9 billion have been allocated to building 150,000 homes, of which half will come from the government and half from private banks. Members of the government, including Vice-President Elias Jaua, have met with financial institution representatives.
“Private banks can’t just finance one sector of the population, they also have to finance the low-income sectors, professionals, and the middle class, without using speculation mechanisms,” Chavez said.
He also said the mission wasn’t “just about constructing houses” but that the various productive capacities of the area of construction had to be taken into consideration.
“If we don’t think about this, we’re like a person who wants to make a table with just one leg, it’ll fall down. We have to do [the job] completely, with four legs.”
He said new residential areas have to consider where the families living there are going to work, study, receive health care, do leisure activities, and so on.
The new mission will include Mission Habitat and Mission Villanueva, which were launched in 2003 and 2007 respectively, and were also created to address the housing shortage.
As part of the new mission, the government plans to present 1,700 apartments in the “residential city” of Fabricio Ojeda, currently under construction in Zulia state, to those needing housing, Chavez announced. The “city” is being constructed on land donated by PDVSA, Venezuela’s state owned petroleum company.
Chavez said the government would allocate the apartments, which will be subsidised 100% in some cases, 80% in others, and 20% in others.
“Priority will be given to those people who are in the refuges [due to the flooding emergency] and to families who live in the barrios, who are in an imminent situation of danger,” he said. Most families living in the barrios live in self-built homes, many of which are on steep unstable land at risk of collapsing during heavy rains. Many families already have certificates of allocation for government housing under construction.
Further, Chavez declared 17 “vital areas” across the country where the government plans to construct 150,951 houses. He was able to make the declaration under the emergency land law passed last month, which aims to put unused or abandoned land towards housing or non residential construction.
The land, Chavez said, will come under control of the Presidential Commission for Housing, and form part of the new housing mission.
“We’re going to construct two million homes in Venezuela between 2011 and 2017,” he said.
Estimates of the total housing deficit range from two to three million. It is also estimated that Venezuelans need a minimum of 135,000 to 200,000 new homes per year to defeat the crisis in ten years, but in the first five years of the Chavez government, government and private sectors constructed an average of 34,000 homes, roughly equal to or less than under previous governments.
More recently the government has made a greater effort to confront the crisis, granting land titles, nationalising key housing related industries, starting the ‘petrocasa’ program of cheap and easily assembled houses made from plastics derived from petroleum processing, regulating housing loans, as well as signing bilateral agreements with allied countries to build houses and apartments. It declared housing a major priority this year.