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The housing shortage is one of the most serious problems in Venezuela, together with unemployment, lack of personal security, and poverty. A report by the Venezuelan Construction Chamber, reveals that 5 out of each 10 persons lack adequate homes. An estimated 12 million 150,000 citizens have housing problems, whether not owning a home or not living in home that is under the minimum standards. The deficit of new homes is 1.6 million units for approximately 7.2 million people. Moreover, due to population growth, this deficit, grows by 110,000 each year.

Of this 1.6 million deficit, 960,000 homes correspond to families that do not own a house and live either with their parents or with another family, and 640,000 correspond to families that live in homes below the minimum standards, usually built with leftover materials.

So far, state policies to provide the population with homes, have not been effective, as the president of the construction chamber, Alvaro Sucre, admits. Furthermore, he says, the allocated budget allocated each year, keeps decreasing and does not cover the needs of the sector.

The businessman claims that in the five years of this administration, only 100,569 units have been built, merely 6.28% of the total demand for housing in the country.

The chamber estimates that only ten thousand homes will be built this year, since the government plans were designed with very low budgets and restrictions on private participation.

In view of this, Sucre sent the Minister of Planning, Jorge Giordani, a proposal to invest 2 billion U$ (4.5 trillion bolívares) in two years and to hasten not only housing construction, but also the completion of several infrastructure projects.

The implementation of this proposal would facilitate the creation of 550,000 jobs and the quick construction of 186,000 homes at a price between 25 and 35 million bolívares (Bs.) each.

Sucre explained that the in the first place, the government should appoint a Minister of Habitat and Housing, in charge of the National Housing Council (Conavi), with ample powers that enable him or her to act with sufficient independence and decision power to eliminate the existing anarchy in the housing sector.

To some extent, the government has welcome this proposal with its recent announcement of the new Ministry of Housing, in charge of extending the plans in this sector, said Sucre; and added that this new organism would put order in the state policies concerning infrastructure.

He also pointed out the necessity of promoting and subscribing a National Intergovernmental Agreement, between the central government and the regional and local governments, that facilitates the coordinated and decentralized execution of housing policies. A third proposal is the provision of the necessary resources to immediately start a two year construction plan for 186,000 new homes and the improvement of the habitats in depressed neighborhoods.

The president of the chamber, also said that this plan proposes seven specific programs:

- Habilitations and improvements in poor neighborhoods (880 billion Bs.)
- Small social credits for the improvement of existing homes, and transformation of existing homes into productive houses (240 billion Bs.)
- Completion of 56,000 homes (540 billionBs.)
- Development of land plots with basic services (320 b.)
- Financial support to private investors for the gradual construction of 85,000 new homes (1,550 billion Bs.)
- Direct subsidies to the housing demand in order to promote the construction of 45,000 new homes by the private sector (410billion Bs.)
- Comprehensive technical housing assistance through social workers, engineers, architects, sociologists, and other associations (210 billion Bs.)

Published in Quantum No 30