“Informal renting is a response to the housing need for which thousands of people, not having the conditions required in Argentina by the rental market, they must live in places with inadequate conditions and at a very high cost, especially in large cities”. That is one of the diagnoses made by Habitat for Humanity Argentina based on his work to improve housing conditions in the country, which has been going on for more than 20 years.
In a 2007 study, the organization described as “critical” the situation of many families living in tenements, tenements and pension hotels in the South Zone of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. These are places where there is usually overcrowding or housing conditions are unhealthy or present structural risks. However, as the formal rental market requires large amounts to start renting, and also some property in guarantee, many low-income people cannot access.
“It is a debt for Argentina not to have social rental programs,” says Paula Celestino Ayala, deputy director of Institutional Development at Habitat Argentina. Thus, In addition to having developed the first sheltered rental in the City of Buenos Aires, the organization is promoting a campaign to enforce the social rental law.
Stela of Hopes
Faced with the problem of informal rentals, Habitat for Humanity developed a rental project that mutated over time. Initially, it sought to be the link between owners and tenants who came from pension hotels or rentals. The plan consisted of the organization functioning as a kind of guarantor between both parties. However, over time, the results were not as expected and they developed a new solution.
This second stage of the project consisted of buying a building that was in ruins in the neighborhood of La Boca, in the City of Buenos Aires. They dismantled it and built a new building there that they called Estela de Esperanzas (which would later give its name to the entire program) and adapted it to offer families that lived in hotels, boarding houses or tenements formal rents at market prices, without the requirements of guarantees. and amounts of income that are usually barriers. It was the first supervised rental experience in the Federal Capital.
During the next stage of the project, the challenge was to ensure that families could improve their situation in order to access the formal market. “Our thesis argued that, having the house as a solid base, the families were in better conditions to be able to carry out the transformations of their situation (work, economic, educational, etc.). Although in many cases this was proven, it was not in all of them since other factors come into play”, says Celestino Ayala.
With the arrival of the pandemic and the current economic crisis, families saw their income decimated and, in many cases, lost their jobs. Besides, inflation and the rental crisis further increased the gap in accessing adequate housing. In this context, the project added new edges.
25 families have already passed through Estelas de Esperanza, since its origin in 2008.
Today the project contemplates two approaches: on the one hand, a rent at market price is granted in the residence for a period of three years and a staggered subsidy to allow time for families to recover income; on the other, a support network for training, job placement and income generation is carried out together with specialized organizations. “The main objective is that people, after passing through the project, can access a home through the formal market”, explains Celestino Ayala. And he clarifies that “to access Estelas de Esperanzas, families must not necessarily have formal income and must have a history of living in tenements, pension hotels, tenements and / or popular neighborhoods.”
Social Rental NOW
The Social Rental NOW campaign is the result of the knowledge acquired by Habitat for Humanity Argentina with the Estela de Esperanzas project. “We believe that a social rental model or policy must be built by the various actors in the housing ecosystem, from the people who suffer from the problem, to the political sector, the private sector and civil society organizations that have experience in access to housing. That is why we are summoning all of them to the 1st Conference on Social Rental”, says Celestino Ayala.
Habitat for Humanity Argentina promotes compliance with Law 27,551, sanctioned in 2020 and which creates the National Social Rental Program. The norm also proposes a line of actions, such as promoting, through the competent bodies, the regulation of the actions of entities that grant surety bonds or surety insurance for housing rental contracts, promoting the creation of subsidy lines either soft loans in order to facilitate access to the rental of housing or support those who have difficulties to meet the requirements of guarantee, deposit and other expenses necessary to obtain a rental home.
You can join the Social Rental NOW campaign and promote compliance with the law.
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Protected rentals is not the only initiative carried out by Habitat for Humanity Argentina to improve homes. For example, it also develops the Red Mejores Viviendas program that seeks to nuclear different social organizations to add capacities and help the quality of self-built homes in popular neighborhoods.
Habitat for Humanity Argentina has been accompanying self-constructed neighbors for two decades. In relation to this, Ana Cutts, director of Habitat for Humanity Argentina, said in this note that it is essential to ensure that families that build themselves, “they perceive the importance of having technical assistance, since they do not have access to financing to build in a more orderly and rapid way.”
You can collaborate for self-construction and home improvement projects with a financial donation.
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