In just under three weeks since its launch, nearly half a million families in ﬁve states across Venezuela have answered the national government’s call to register for its massive new public housing program which seeks to build two million new homes by the year 2017.
The program, called Grand Mission “Housing Venezuela”, is the Chavez administration’s deﬁnitive answer to theCaribbeannation’s current housing shortage, calculated at over 1.5 million, and marks a ﬁrm commitment by the Executive branch to provide access to affordable living space for all the country’s residents.
“The government that I manage will not rest until there is justice inVenezuelafor everyone”, Chavez declared last year after making housing one of his top priorities into the future.
The mission’s registration process, which began after the program’s ofﬁcial inauguration on April 30th, has been operating in the capital ofCaracasand the coastal states most affected by last year’s torrential rains which left more than 100 thousand people displaced.
Upon completion of this ﬁrst phase of registration in June, other states will begin the process until the census is completed in September.
Since its commencement in select areas, turnout has been steady and orderly as inhabitants have formed lines in public plazas and government facilities, awaiting their opportunity to sign-up for the government program which will prioritize housing according to need.
Over four thousand Venezuelans have been employed to enroll heads of households in the mission, collecting information regarding income and family size and utilizing the country’s advanced electronic voting machines to guard against fraud.
LOANS AND SUBSIDIES
Government ofﬁcials have informed that low interest loans will be made available for the purchase of the newly constructed Venezuelans join mass housing solutions program homes and the level of individual subsidies that will accompany the public housing will depend on a family’s earnings.
In cases of extreme poverty, that subsidy will be as high as 100 percent.
According to Ricardo Menendez, Minister of Science, Technology and Intermediate Industries, the registration process has been operating smoothly as the government organizes its support for those residents left behind by previous administrations.
“Everyday we compile the registration totals with scientiﬁc standards. Up until today we have 496,908 families enrolled in the Grand Mission ‘Housing Venezuela’ which translates to 1,656,848 people who in the past were invisible to the state but now with the Revolution are being given effective and systematic solutions to their housing problems”, Menendez said, speaking from a registration point in Caracas.
“Everything is going according to the plan”, Housing and Habitat Minister Ricardo Molina remarked during the program Dando y Dando broadcast on state television on Sunday. “Intense work is being done and we need to highlight the job that the workers are doing”.
FIVE STRATEGIC POINTS OF ACTION
The current family registration represents one of the ﬁve strategic action areas that the government has deﬁned in order to reach its goal of two million homes in 6 years.
Another point includes locating urban and suburban lands where housing complexes can be built.
During his interview on Sunday, Minister Molina informed that the national government has been active in reclaiming unused or unproductive land in order to provide for the housing needs of the people.
Speaking to the historic problem of land inequality inVenezuela, Molina blamed capitalism for the exclusion of the poor from quality land and the growth of the shantytowns or “barrios” that skirt the country’s major metropolitan centers.
“As a product of the capitalist system, people were unable to obtain land and for this reason, a large part of our population migrated to the worst plots and the areas surrounding the cities”, Molina said of the rural exodus that occurred in the South American country at the beginning of the 20th century.
For his part, President Hugo Chavez also reported on Sunday that the Venezuelan government has received an additional 92 hectares (227 acres) from the state’s deposit protection agency Fogade as a product of the private assets that came under public control during a ﬁnancial crisis that befell the country in 1994.
All told, ofﬁcials now conﬁrm that the government has successfully identiﬁed and allocated the land necessary to reach its housing goals through 2013.
In addition to land, other strategic areas of planning include securing the enormous ﬁnancial backing needed to guarantee the project’s realization, the identiﬁcation of contractors to participate in the program, and ensuring access to required building materials.
With respect to funding, apart from dedicating billions of dollars from its national development fund to ﬁnance the project, the government has also entered into strategic alliances with private domestic banks as well as non-US based international lenders such as China.
In 2010, China approved a loan to Venezuela for $20 billion, the largest in the Asian country’s history while, during the Mission Housing Venezuela’s inauguration ceremony in April, public ofﬁcials alongside private contractors and bankers afﬁrmed their commitment to work together in order to provide affordable housing solutions for all Venezuelans.
In order to guarantee the availability of construction materials the government has ampliﬁed its nationalized network of concrete and steel production and has signed various supply ensuring agreements with private producers.
“Just as it is guaranteeing access to land, the state has control of the essential construction materials and the plans for ﬁnancing”, Vice-Minister of Technological and Scientiﬁc Development Jorge Arreaza said during the program on state television last Sunday.
According to the vice-minister,Mission“Housing Venezuela” is on track to become one of the most successful government programs that the Chavez administration has created to date.
“All of the conditions are set so that within eight years every Venezuelan family will have a digniﬁed living space”, Arreaza declared.