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November 27, 2014
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Report: BA City housing is disproportionate

Most of the new construction projects take place in richer neighbourhoods like Palermo

The construction of housing jumped almost 100 percent between 2010 and 2011 in Buenos Aires City, but new homes and apartments in the country’s most populous metropolitan area were predominately built in wealthier parts of the capital where the demand for housing is lower, according to a recently released report by the Buenos Aires City Economic and Social Council.

“Between 2010 and 2011 the residential area where permits for new constructions and extensions were requested grew 94 percent in the City,” despite the population of Buenos Aires City growing just four percent in the last decade, noted the 200-page report, which was presented last week at the annual meeting of the Economic and Social Councils Network for Latin America and the Caribbean (CESALC). The huge increase in 2011 is likely to be at least in part due to bounce back from the slowdown that took place during the 2009 global economic crisis and, above all, was disproportionate based on the area of the City where permits were given, with the southern neighbourhoods largely missing out, the council indicated.

“The neighbourhoods that registered the greatest number of residential projects are precisely those where the increase in population in the last 10 years is the lowest,” said the nonpartisan organization comprised of lawyers, economists, and NGO officials, among other public and private sector representatives.

Residents living in zones 4, 8, 9 and 10 — which include neighbourhoods like La Boca, Villa Lugano, Mataderos and Parque Chacabuco — were pointed out in the report as having greater economic needs and pressure placed on them to access housing, made more complicated by the fact construction in those areas had been lower than other parts of the City.

The most extreme example of the trend was in zone 8 — which includes the Soldati, Lugano and Villa Riachuelo neighbourhoods — where the population grew 15.8 percent but where the least new constructions took place during that time.

“The effort of a person from a poor household (to gain access to housing) equates to 67 years of work and savings, while for someone from the top decile four and a half years would be enough,” the Council noted, using average land prices from 2012.

The report also highlighted the growth of the City’s poor informal neighbourhoods, which are known as villas, saying it was linked to the process of eviction “principally in neighbourhoods where urbanization projects are taking place” and “the emergence of new urban settlements in isolated zones of the city.”

‘Speculative construction’

Jaime Sorín, director of the National Commission of Museums, Monuments and Historic Places, said the statistics reflected a trend toward “speculative construction” in the market.

“City Hall has ignored the issue of housing and has a vision linked to the 90s when it was said the market was responsible for resolving problems,” he told state-run news agency Télam. “Construction by metres squared and also the amount of empty housing has multiplied in the last eight to 10 years, so it’s speculative construction.”

The former University of Buenos Aires dean of architecture also noted the increase of informal “emergency housing” in the south.

“It’s important to mention that Buenos Aires City has always had a low percentage of rentals, but today it has reached 30 percent” (from 22 percent in 2011) he said, while criticizing City Hall for cutting the City Housing Institute (IVC)’s national budget.

“It’s been gradually decreased from 2005 to now by around 17 percent,” Sorín said. The IVC “should focus on building new homes and urbanizing the informal neighbourhoods (known as villas in Spanish), but it doesn’t.”

The regional organization’s data fits with information released a few months ago by City Hall’s Urban Development Ministry, which showed 43 percent of housing had been built in the centre and north of the City (Palermo, Caballito, Villa Urquiza, Belgrano and Almagro), while just two percent had been built in the south (Villa Soldati, Villa Lugano, Villa Riachuelo, La Boca and Parque Avellaneda).

Herald with Télam

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