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A Roof of Her (their) Own: Self-Constructing a Home in Lima

By Rosa Paredes Castro, on 28 June 2022

Introduction

Through time, the struggle of people who migrated from Peruvian rural areas to Lima, the capital of Peru, has been marked by the “informal” occupation of the land that has transformed Lima into a megalopolis. In this context, the story of Maria kicks off in the 1960s when her family was forced to move from their original Tayabamba, a small town in the Andes, to Lima. Her emigration story is the trajectory of thousands of families that were forced to occupy Lima’s outskirts due to Shining Path terrorist actions in several towns of Peru.

Maria’s story highlights the trajectory of a woman who seek to overcome the barriers of the unequal land distribution of housing and how in this context, migrants created self-constructed and self-organized agencies that enable them to create a space for their families, as portrayed in the documentary “A roof of my own” (Turner, 1964) and the follow-up “City Unfinished – Voices of El Ermitaño” (Golda-Pongratz & Flores, 2018). Likewise, it portrait how self-construction has evolved throughout time regarding the inclusion of further generations challenges.

Housing Self-Construction in Lima

In the socio-political context of Lima, self-construction practices have turned into the rule rather than the exception. Even for the past two decades, Peru has increased their economic profits, the production of informal settlements has been severely intensified. Nowadays, more than 90% of Lima’s expansion corresponded to the informal production of housing (Espinoza & Fort, 2020).

Self-construction processes started from 1960s when immigrants from the Andes and other rural regions of Peru were forced to occupy illegally Lima’s outskirts. This first period was marked by a massive and collective occupation of an undeveloped land. Andean cosmovision have its roots in a relational and collective cosmovision that were supported by the practice of “Minka” , which was a practice that entailed mutual aid and collective workforce used for the benefit of the community. Since the origin of the people who occupied those areas were rooted in those ancient collective practices, the first production of self-constructed housing was characterized by social relationships of solidarity, cooperation, and mutual-aid.

First Migration (1960): Assisted shantytowns

The story of Maria started in this first occupation of Lima’s outskirts. Up to this point, Peruvian socio-political was marked by the spatial effects of Shining Path terrorist actions over several rural areas in Peru, those actions were forcing people to move from their original regions to escape from persecution, terror, and an ever-growing internal war. Lima, the capital of Peru, was the recipient of massive occupations in underdeveloped areas.

Maria, at 25 years of age, was forced to leave her original town Tayabamba with her three sisters after her mother was assassinated when refusing to join Shining Path. Her mother was a farmer, and they live from the commercial exchange of the products that the land used to produce daily. In that sense, Maria didn’t possess any savings that allow her to take a housing mortgage and access a social housing program. This is why, in coordination with other women and families, they organized themselves to take Pampa de Cueva, which it was an undeveloped area in the Northern outskirts of Lima, that used to belong to an industrial company.

Figure 01: Pampa de Cueva land being organized to start the first period of “assisted shantytowns”.
Lazaro Gutierrez, V. (1960). Personal archive. 17nov1960. http://17n.limanorte.com/

 

Figure 02: Women cooperating in the preparation of the land to built-up a house of one of the settlement dwellers. Lazaro Gutierrez, V. (1960). Personal archive. 17nov1960. http://17n.limanorte.com/

 

Turner (1964) in “Housing by people” explain housing self-construction processes by proposing an autonomy in its production. By recalling “people as infrastructure” (Turner, 1964, p.17), Turner states that rather than centralize the housing production in the state, this effort should be transformed into a self-governing approach by considering people’s participation as a social capital. Maria, without economic capital to invest in her own house, started to organize herself with other families in Pampa de Cueva settlement by reactivating the cooperative practices that migrants from the Andes carried out through “minka”. Initially, on how to distribute the land area for the accommodation of each family and aftwerwards on how to build-up collectively the housing dwellings of the neighbourhood.

Nevertheless, the right to access a piece of land for Maria and the other families was not that easy to achieve. During 1960, there were successive evictions reinforced by the state and land private owners of Pampa de Cueva. The association between the government and the private sector produced several attempts to evict Maria and their neighbors. However, throughout “comites” (cooperatives), which were groups in charge of the community decisions organized at the core of the initial occupation, they started a process in which different forms of organization and mutual aid will take place, becoming key elements in the fight for the land tenure.

As stated by Turner (1964), if the right to the city is understood from a democratic and socialist context, “planning and administration are legislative processes limited to actions essential to establish and maintain an equitable distribution of resources” (Turner, 1964,p. 22). In Lima of the 1960s, that distribution was concentrated in powerful families that have inherited those pieces of land from their own families. However, the social capital of lower-income people was their only possibility to make decisions collectively and negotiate within the state regarding their right to housing tenure.

“We were not able to leave our houses because we have no other option to live, we persisted and remain despite the violence of the police. We couldn’t step back” (Maria, 2022). As a result of several negotiations with the state and a massive force of cooperation and self-organization, the right to remain was approved for Pampa de Cueva dwellers.

Figure 03: Polices taking Pampa de Cueva seeking to evict people from the settlement occupation. Unknown author (1960). Accesed: Caretas Archive (Lima, Peru)

Boom of “assisted shantytowns” and Collectivism strengthening (1970s-1980s)

Having achieved the right to remain, the spread of informal settlements increased rapidly in several underdeveloped areas of Lima as portrayed in the cover page of Architectural Design (Turner, 1963). In this period, the evolution showcases that the barriadas started covering the 10 per cent of Lima’s population in 1955 and 25 per cent in 1970 (Riofrio, 2003). Now that Maria and Pampa de Cueva dwellers have achieved the access to land tenure, the challenge was located on how to gain access to public services and technical assistance in the production of housing.

Figure 04: Pampa de Cueva (El Ermitaño) growth in 1963. Turner, J. (1963). Accesed: Architectural Design, vol. 33, nº 8. London.

The strengthening of the social organizations in Pampa de Cueva was an important element in the process to gain access to further subsidies from the government for public services. This organization was rooted twofold. On the one hand, cooperatives operated at the level of the negotiations within the state and on the other hand, they operate at the grassroots level by negotiating with the other families regarding which decisions will be the priorities for the common challenges. In this context, Maria became a leader in the organization of all the “comites” of Pampa de Cueva, also enhancing its political capacities for the benefit of the development of the common challenges of the settlement.

Turner (1964) states that an autonomy of housing production implies that rather than centralizing the decisions towards the state, governments should act as mediators that could empower the social capacities of people and their autonomous decisions. “Instead of needing to know how many houses are or will be demanded in a given place and time or for a given social sector, planners and administrators need only know the approximate quantities of building materials, tools, and labour, land, and credit that will be required. (Turner, 1964, p. 30). Following this approach, cooperative, and collective aid keep marking the growth of self-constructed housing in Pampa de Cueva. Maria’s house was built-up with the help of their neighbours. “With the other neighbours, we organize shifts to work each weekend. We helped each other and we know that we can rely on our “compadres” to finish our housing roofs or building up our rooms” (Maria, 2022)

As a result of that force of self-organization and a massive social pressure, the Ministry of Housing approved the legal framework that will enable new shantytowns to gain access to a permanent legal tenure and further technical and economic assistance as public services and infrastructure (Castillo-Garcia, 2021). According to Espinoza, et al (2020), lower income dwellers understood that if they take the land, afterwards the government will subsidize the land tenure and the access to public services (Espinoza, et al, 2020). Peru rapidly became a reference of “assisted shantytowns” among Latin America, since it was the only government supporting the self-production of housing (Riofrio, 2003). In that sense, the agency of Maria and Pampa de Cueva dwellers contributed to the integration of the production of self-constructed housing in the National Housing policy and as part of the correlative development strategies. (Castillo-Garcia, 2021).

Figure 05: Pampa de Cueva dwellers playing a football game. Lazaro Gutierrez, V. (1960). Personal archive. 17nov1960. http://17n.limanorte.com/

The switch from self-production assistance to neoliberal policies opening (1990-2000)

Nevertheless, from 1990 onwards, housing policies took as inspiration Hernando de Soto’s theories of neoliberal planning (Riofrio, 2003). According to De Soto, with the legal housing tenancy the private sector will regulate the further upgrading of informal settlements (Riofrio,2007). Technical capacity was transferred to local governments who can approve tentative land areas for social housing interests (Castillo-Garcia, 2021) and the production of social housing was commissioned to the private sector through the creation of MIVIVIENDA fund. As a result of those policies, informal land speculators appeared in several underdeveloped areas of Lima. Those neoliberal attempts were supported by Alberto Fujimori’s government, who used a populist strategy to promise housing tenure to migrants and contributed to a culture of stigmatization of cooperativism, community organization, and political participation.

“During Fujimori’s government, the members of the comites were bribed and the way we cooperate with others wasn’t the same (…) people were also afraid to be stigmatized as a terrorist for Fujimori’s associates” (Maria, 2022). Meanwhile, up to this point Alejandrina’s family grew up. She got married and after having two children her family required more space for inhabiting and working. Since the plot that Maria’s fight for allowed her to progressively adapt her house, they built a second floor for their children and expanded the first floor to open a small grocery shop. However, her sisters could no longer live with them, so they started looking for affordable options closer to their social and economic networks. In this process, the only alternative that they find it was to buy informally some plots to land trafficants in Pampa de Cueva. Having understood that the process of assisted shantytowns will further provide access to public services and land tenure, private speculators created systems of informal occupations and further traffic of land, distributing the land and selling the plots for 700 dollars, a value that lower-income families could afford by a small loan from a local bank.

This situation marked a different occupation, the mutual aid has progressively been disappearing. In addition to the regulatory opening for speculators, new generations were more interested into remain closer to their social and job networks but less interested in contributing to a community belonging (Riofrio, 2002). Even though there was initial support for self-construction processes, by opening housing regulations to “let the private sector upgrade the assisted shantytowns” (De Soto, cited in Riofrio, 2007), who were benefited were the land speculators rather than lower-income dwellers.

Second Generation Challenges and a never-ending process (2000-2022)

From 2000 onwards, the government offered the major responsability for the social housing production to the Real State sector. Influenced by the United Nations Agenda, which “recognizes that governments are not able to meet housing needs through direct action or state provision and that the diversity and scale of such need require the participation of the private sector and local communities” (UN Agenda 2012, cited in Payne, et al, 2012, p.13).

Meanwhile, alternative options for Maria’s family have been limited. Maria’s son grew up and with a family, affording the initial payment of a mortgage was not possible. Even If the government proposed subsidies for social housing in some areas located on the outskirts of Lima (Espinoza, et al, 2021), he didn’t qualify for bank credit with a $ 300 basic salary and accumulated debts. Therefore, his only alternative was still to buy a plot from the land trafficators. Consequently, self-construction from the 2000s onwards, influenced by the land traficant organizations, became the only alternative for further generations. By 2018, the production of shantytowns represented tentative the 90 percent of Lima’s expansion (Espinoza, et al, 2020).

.

 

Figure 06: Informal occupation in the Upper Areas of Pampa de Cueva by land traffic (2017). Paredes Castro, R. (2017). Housing Self-construction Illustration in Lima (Peru).

In this context, how could regulation work to the benefit of lower-income dwellers? Turner (1990, cited in Payne & Majale, 2012) proposes a switch in the traditional housing regulation by an “open system” that will enable households to find adaptable alternatives suitable to their needs departing from a range of competition of all the suppliers involved in the production of housing. In Lima, policies oriented towards Real State profits and the inadaptability of regulations towards the needs of new generations contributed to the progression of a never-ending process of land trafficant. In that sense, the fight for affordable and secure housing persists in the story of Maria.

“Nevertheless, we are still positive in the future of our family, we struggle to build-up our houses and access to sanitation and electricity, I believe that my son will also be able to someday have a house for him and his future family” (Maria, 2022).

Conclusions

Maria’s trajectory showcase that even though the initial government support of self-construction processes benefited the development of lower-income housing access, within the enhancement of the neoliberal policies and the correlative land regulations for the benefit of Real Estate developers, a vast ground for private formal and informal speculators was opened. Furthermore, the strengthening of those policies and the new generations’ interests also has contributed to the weakening of the social organization and cooperative practices. In this regard, Maria’s story demonstrates that individual land tenure doesn’t guarantee that the right to housing will be achieved. As shown in the story, this also open the ground for alliances between the private sector and the state rooted in a long trace of corruption carried out in Peru.

Furthermore, Maria’s story also highlights the power of organization and people’s agency as social capital and strategic elements in the fight for housing. Beyond a romanticization of self-construction, the story shows that community participation is imperative in the journey toward housing. Therefore, housing requires to be reframed as a process rather than a product (Turner,1964).  Beyond understanding the housing question from a critique of the state, the story shows that the right for housing navigate in the nuances of politics, personal trajectories, community participation, and urban and housing policies. In this context, further questions need to be raised. How to co-create adaptable housing policies in which the different agents involved could generate flexible and affordable alternatives for lower-income dwellers? How to navigate land traffic challenges from a co-production and participation of further generations? And finally, how to reimagine collectively a roof of her (their) own?

Bibliography & References

  • Castillo-Garcia, F (2021). Public Housing Policies in Peru 1946-2021 and contributions to a public housing policy 2021-2030. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0316-5201
  • Espinoza, A. & R. Fort (2020).Mapeo y tipología de la expansión urbana en el Perú. Lima: GRADE; ADI. https://www.grade.org.pe/publicaciones/mapeo-y-tipologia-de-la-expansion-urbana-en-el-peru/
  • Fernandez, J.C & Pelaez,F (2021). Unidades cooperativas: de la vivienda titulada al barrio titulado. En FIIU5. Resiliencia Urbana. Tomo I. (pp. 21 – 27). LIMA. Ocupa tu calle. https://96p.ef8.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Libro-FIIU-5.tomo1_.pdf?time=1615397872
  • McGuirk, J. (2014). Radical Cities: Across the Latin America in Search of a New Architecture. London: Verso. – Watkins, Katie.
  • Golda-Pongratz, K. & Flores, R. (2018). Ciudad Infinita – Voces de El Ermitaño” [City Unfinished – Voices of El Ermitaño]” (2018)
  • Golda-Pongratz, K (2021). John FC Turner (1927-). The Architectural Review.Self-built housing + AR House: The Architectural Review Issue 1477, December 2020/January 2021. https://www.architectural-review.com/essays/reputations/john-fc-turner-1927
  • Riofrio, G. (2003). Urban Slums reports: The case of Lima-Peru. Global Report on Human Settlements 2003. The Challenge of Slums.
  • Riofrio, G. (2007). La política de vivienda en el Perú responde a la oferta y no a la demanda [In person]. Palestra, Portal de Asuntos PúblicosPE. http://repositorio.pucp.edu.pe/index//handle/123456789/11941
  • Payne, G. & Majale, M. (2012). The Urban Housing Manual: Making Regulatory Frameworks Work for the Poor. 10.4324/9781849773362.
  • Turner, J.F.C (1964). A roof of my own (UNTV 1964, 29 minutes)
  • Turner, J.F.C (1976). Housing by people: Towards autonomy in building environments. London: Marion Boyars.


This housing story is part of a mini-series revealing the complex ways in which personal and political aspects of shelter provision interweave over time, and impact on multiple aspects of people’s lives. Space for strategic choice is nearly always available to some degree, but the parameters of that choice can be dramatically restricted or enhanced by context. The wide range of experience presented in this collection shines a light on the wealth of knowledge and insights about housing that our students regularly bring to the DPU’s learning processes.

‘Deserving the city’: Sara’s housing story

By Catalina Marino, on 8 June 2022

‘Look what I was like when I moved to the ‘villa’’, Sara told me, sending me her photo via WhatsApp. We have been talking about her housing story for weeks now. According to her grandma, the picture was taken in their first home in Villa 21-24, in the south of Buenos Aires.

A decade later, with a partner and a kid, the girl in the photo would move to a bigger house near the Riachuelo’s riverbanks. The location of this second home will change her story. In 2008, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that, due to pollution, all families living within 35 meters of the river should be relocated. Paradoxically, from then on, being registered next to the Riachuelo became a golden ticket to access social housing.

I met Sara in 2018 when I joined the Housing Institute of Buenos Aires to coordinate the second phase of the relocation program. Over time, our bureaucratic exchanges turned into long afternoons of conversations and mates. Sara and her husband told me multiple stories about the community and helped me understand some slum dynamics. Now, I once again rely on them to re-discover Buenos Aires’ housing policy.

Image 1: Sara (left) and her brother Walter (right). Source: provided by the interviewee (date unknown).

***

Since their emergence, the villas (squatter settlements) have been subject to eclectic government policies. A product of internal migration in the late ’30s, they were first seen as a temporary phenomenon that enabled the country’s industrialization. Later, the successive military governments considered that these ‘illegal occupations’ entailed a social threat. During the ’70s, families were expelled to their ‘places of origin’ or simply dumped on vacant land outside the city’s limits. Eradication policies and forced disappearances explain the drastic decrease in slum population: from 213,823 in 1976 to 34,064 in 1980 (Dadamia, 2019). ‘Living in Buenos Aires is not for everyone but for those who deserve it’, synthesized the Housing Minister of that time (in Oszlak, 1991).

Fortunately, Sara’s story begins at a brighter time. She was born in 1985, during the first years of democratic rule. Committed to prosecuting human rights violations, the new government definitely abandoned the eradication paradigm towards the long-settled villas. In Buenos Aires, the ‘Slum Settlement Program’ (Act 39.753/84) recognized the right of slum dwellers to remain in their place. Later, the right to housing would be guaranteed in the 1994’s National Constitution.

However, none of the successive housing and land regularization programs achieved widespread implementation. As part of the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s, the ‘Plan Arraigo’ (Law 23,967/1991) promoted the sale of all public land deemed ‘unnecessary’ and the transfer of property titles to their occupants. But even this policy designed to guarantee tenure security was limited and suspended shortly after. In Buenos Aires, only a few received housing through some short-lived ‘street opening’ programs and even less acquired their land titles (Di Virgilio, 2015).

 

Our story begins with a State that, while recognizing its responsibility in guaranteeing housing rights, systematically fails to fulfill it. Describing the literal waiting process inside welfare offices, Javier Auyero argues that the urban poor are forced to become ‘patients of the state’. Because even this ‘downsized, decentralized, and “hollowed out” state’ can still provide them ‘limited but vital welfare benefits’ (Auyero, 2012, p. 5). But as others have said before, this waiting process is always active. Individually or collectively, the urban poor deploy different strategies to dispute or negotiate with the State (Fainstein, 2020), and they learn which are the ‘correct ways to ask’ (Olejarczyk, 2017). They embrace ‘survivability’, because while the existence of the villas has ceased to be threatened, their residents still live a life ‘in a constant state of instability’ (Lees and Robinson, 2021, p. 594). As we shall see, Sara’s story is one about survival.

***

Sara arrived at Villa 21-24 when she was still a kid. Established on public land, near industrial areas and railways, the settlement had reached 12,000 families in the ‘70s before the eradication policy reduced the number in half. Sara’s father, Ángel, had endured the military rule in the villa but eventually managed to move to his father’s house 30km away from Buenos Aires. However, with three kids and a wife who did not adapt to the new town, he decided to return.

They bought a house there in the late ’80s, taking advantage of the new democratic approach. The certainty that they will never be evicted by the State is strongly felt throughout Sara’s narration. ‘We were never afraid of being evicted. Here in the villa, (…) I never saw bulldozers go by.’

Of those early years, Sara’s memories are somewhat blurred. Her parents separated shortly after their return. Sara stayed in the house with her father and her younger sister Yanina. There were times when they also lived with Walter and Pablo, her mother’s children, but dates are not clear. What is certain is that the house was small, made of corrugated metal and wood, and had two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bath.

Like most houses, theirs had an informal power line, but it did not have an independent water connection. They had to go to the community faucet in the ‘middle corridor’ (pasillo) to get water. She recalls that many people went to look for water there. Maybe it was the only faucet for the entire neighbourhood, but she is not sure. What we know is that all the infrastructure was developed by the community. A true example of ‘social production of the habitat’. Even today, official water and electricity lines are found only on the villa’s perimeter and on the two avenues that cross it. They only reach what the public services providers persevere in calling the ‘formal city’.

Although the house was small, they did not reform it until Sara got pregnant at the age of 14. To give them some independence, her father decided to fix a small ‘brick room’ on the side of the house. She moved there with her partner, Leonardo, when their son Ezequiel was born.

Image 4: Villa 21-24 in 2002. Source: Google Earth

***

‘ – Did you ever think about leaving?

– One always dreams of leaving (…). But the opportunity didn’t come along. (…) Leonardo was 16 and didn’t have a permanent job. He did informal gigs, waste-picking with a cart. (…) We lived day to day’.

 

Sara could not afford to move alone, even less outside the villa, where landlords usually request tenants to guarantee the lease with another proprietor’s deed. Buying a house through the market was even less of an option, as access to long-term credit and loans is restricted to those with formal income, not to say, with substantial previous savings in US dollars. She was also skeptical of state programs. Her grandmother had tried to access a home through the cooperative in charge of implementing the ‘land regularization program’. But despite having paid several installments, the cooperative leader ended up arbitrarily assigning the land plots in exchange for cash. Dozens of families were scammed, and the State did nothing. They were on their own.

However, even with their daily struggles, they managed to save some money. Eventually, in the early 2000s, they had the opportunity to move to a larger house within the villa, which they jointly bought with Sara’s father. This was a ‘brick house’, with water and electricity connections, a living room, a bathroom and a large patio. It also had three bedrooms, which could accommodate what were now three distinct families: Sara’s, Yanina’s, and Angel’s.

Interestingly, in Sara’s account, there are no references to the Riachuelo river, even when the new house is located a few meters from it. However, in 2004, on the opposite riverbank, a group of neighbors filed a lawsuit denouncing the environmental damage they had suffered due to the Riachuelo’s high pollution levels. In 2008, the Supreme Court of Justice would order the National State, the Province and the City of Buenos Aires to clean up the river’s basin and improve the resident’s livelihoods. Two years later, the Court would further rule that all the people residing 35 meters from the Riachuelo had to be relocated. With this decision, 1534 families living in Villa 21-24 were granted the right to social housing.

Image 5: Villa 21-24 in 2010. In purple, the relocation area. Source: Google Earth (2010)

***

In 2011 the Housing Institute conducted a census to identify which families would be affected by the relocation. By this time, the residents had managed to organize themselves into a Body of Delegates elected by each ‘block’. They had also requested the presence of the Public Defense and other judicial institutions to monitor the government’s procedures. But Sara never actively participated in those spaces.

“We didn’t believe it (…). The 2011 census was like any other census, once again. They didn’t tell us that one day that census would help us have an apartment… or a different life… like open the tap and getting hot water’.

However, with time, the 2011 census certificate became the most precious document, the one that could guarantee, essentially, an improvement of the living conditions, the ‘hot water’. Eventually, even houses were sold ‘with the former owner’s census certificate’, as a strategy to transfer with it the ‘relocation right’.

Image 6: Villa 21-24 immediately after the relocation. Source: City Housing Institute (2014).

***

The first relocation began in 2013. The Housing Institute was willing to start from the western end of the villa, where the houses’ demolition would allow the extension of the coastal road, but the Delegates refused. San Blas was the newest neighborhood, ‘squattered’ in 2006. Although they held the same relocation rights, community criteria valued ‘seniority’, that in this case also meant longer exposure to pollution. Backed by the Public Defense lawyers, they convinced the government to relocate the families suffering critical health issues first. This meant starting from the middle, closer to Sara’s house.

In a process denounced for its limited community participation, between 2013 and 2015, 165 families would be moved to the ‘Padre Mugica’ complex, 11 km away from their original homes. However, those years are blurred in Sara’s memories. Around this time, Leonardo’s older brother is murdered by one of his longtime neighbours. When arrested, his relatives come out to threaten Sara and Leonardo’s family. So in an act of explicit survival, leaving all their belongings behind, they abandon their house. For the next few years, they will become tenants in Zavaleta, a settlement located next to the Villa 21-24.

***

From my reconstruction of the story, I know that Sara’s father moved to ‘Padre Mugica’ in 2015. According to Sara, by this time, Ángel was suffering from health issues, and their house, which before stood out for its spaciousness and comparative beauty, had deteriorated sharply. Because of the ‘imminent’ relocation, ‘new construction’ was banned by the government, and even emergency improvements were seen as a waste of resources. Angel’s situation did not go unnoticed by ‘el Choro’ and ‘la Pety’, the Delegates of Sara’s block. Mostly because of their claim, he was prioritized in the relocation, even though his house was not scheduled for demolition at this stage.

Sara remembers accompanying her father to some government meetings before the relocation. There she was able to tell her story to a social worker: she had been forced to leave her home, and although she was no longer living by the Riachuelo, she needed to secure her relocation right. The following years, she would tell her tale multiple times to different government employees, including the Public Defense lawyers. The Housing Institute finally gave her a ‘signed compromise’ where they guaranteed her an apartment in the ‘Padre Mugica’ Complex, which was still under construction.

***

During the five years she lived in Zavaleta, Sara had to move three times. She suffered the instability of the vast majority of tenants, aggravated by the informality of contracts. Fortunately, the new monthly rental costs were not a problem. By that time, Leonardo had a formal job that provided a stable income. At some point, Sara applied for a ‘housing subsidy’ from the local government. But she did that to reinforce her housing rights. ‘I asked for the subsidy because I was told that (…) if I left [the Housing Institute] alone and didn’t bother them (…) they would forget about me’.

However, this ‘active wait’ was long. Sara was meant to be relocated to the  ‘Padre Mugica’ complex, but the government decided to cancel its construction when the building’s quality proved to be deficient. Learning from this failed experience, the Delegates mobilized to get the new houses built next to the villa. But even when they managed to get a bill sanctioned (Law Nº 5172/14), the construction was extremely slow. Four years passed by without progress.

Image 8: Sara’s housing story. Source: Google Earth (2020).

***

At the beginning of 2018, the Housing Institute carried out a new survey to update the 2011 census, although no new ‘housing rights’ were granted. This time, the relocation would begin from the San Blas neighborhood, but some ‘urgent’ cases would be considered.

‘And that’s when my aunt Elsa told me, ‘Sari, go find out because they already called me twice’. When I went, the guy told me that I wasn’t on the list. So I brought him the census certificate and the signed compromise’.

Unlike most families, whose fight had been to relocate closest to their original homes, Sara needed to move far from her former neighbors. ‘San Blas’ neighborhood was the best option for her. In that process, she surrendered yet again to State inspection, of which, this time, I was a part. She registered with her family in a new census. She told her story for the umpteenth time to the new government’s team. She participated in ten relocation workshops to meet her new neighbors. She voted to elect their ‘building’ leader. She actively argued to be assigned an apartment next to her son, Ezequiel, who by this time had his own child and therefore required an independent home.

I was there when, in January 2019, Sara signed the 30-year loan and her apartment’s deed. A week later, she finally moved into her new home.

***

Sara’s story is one about survival. In a country where only the wealthy can access housing through the market, Sara learned how to patiently deal with the State. She faced first the State as an absence: one that at least would not violently evict her from the house she self-procured but that provided little else. Later, the State became the inevitable intermediary, the one from whom to demand access to safe, secure and proper housing. A right granted to her as a way of exception, of which so few were beneficiaries. And in that process, she became a ‘patient of the state’.

But Sara’s waiting was also active. She toured countless public offices, reminding the ever-changing state employees of her story. Being registered on the 2011 census became her best narrative. But, as the 900 families still living by the Riachuelo prove, this was not enough.

Image 9: San Blas’s housing complex. Source: City Housing Institute (2020).

Excused behind budgetary constraints, the State demands the urban poor to be worthy of the public benefits. In a reinvented ‘meritocratic’ logic, it forces them to build their stories around ‘topics of misfortune’. Rights are granted according to a proven critical ‘urgency’. With a kinder face, the democratic State creates new categories to measure who ‘deserves’ and who ‘does not deserve’ to be benefited from the right to housing.

But Sara understood how to tell her story. She learned how to play the game. She strategically negotiated with the State and won. She showed she ‘deserved the city’.

***

Since 2016, the new local government has promoted upgrading projects in four of the city’s largest villas. The programs contemplated the construction of social housing for those affected by the construction of new roads and public spaces. Unfortunately, scarce resources were granted to incremental in-situ improvements. The delays in infrastructure works (water, sanitation and drainage) mean that, in the short term, proper housing is only guaranteed for those few relocated to the ‘new homes’. This time, different rules determine who is worthy of State benefits.

But no housing story ends with the relocation. Because living in the ‘formal’ city and paying the mortgage, services and public expenses create other challenges for the urban poor. And once the ‘urgency’ is resolved, the State tends to disappear.

Sara’s survivability (like many others) will undoubtedly be displayed thousands of times more.

 

 

References

Auyero, J. (2012) Patients of the State. The Politics of Waiting in Argentina. Duke University Press. Durham & London: Duke University Press.

Dadamia, R. (2019) ‘Asentamientos precarios en la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires’, Población de Buenos Aires., pp. 20–33.

Di Virgilio, M.M. (2015) ‘Urbanizaciones de origen informal en Buenos Aires. Lógicas de producción de suelo urbano y acceso a la vivienda’, Estudios demográficos y urbanos, 30(3), pp. 651–690.

Fainstein, C. (2020) ‘Problemas del mientras tanto: espera y justicia en la causa “Mendoza”.’, Avá, (36), pp. 165–193.

Lees, L. and Robinson, B. (2021) ‘Beverley’s Story: Survivability on one of London’s newest gentrification frontiers’, City, 25(5–6), pp. 590–613. doi:10.1080/13604813.2021.1987702.

Najman, M. (2017) ‘El nacimiento de un nuevo barrio: El caso del Conjunto Urbano Padre Mugica en la ciudad de Buenos Aires y sus impactos sobre las estructuras de oportunidades de sus habitantes’, Territorios, (37), p. 123. doi:10.12804/revistas.urosario.edu.co/territorios/a.4978.

Olejarczyk, R. (2017) ‘El tiempo de la (in)definición en las políticas de vivienda: De “tópicos del infortunio” a “saberes expertos” [The time of (in)definition in housing policies: from “clichés of misfortune” to “expert knowledge” ]’, Trabajo Social Hoy, 82(Tercer Trimestre), pp. 89–110. doi:10.12960/TSH.2017.0017.

Oszlak, O. (1991) Merecer la ciudad. Los pobres y el derecho al espacio urbano. Buenos Aires. Argentina.

 

 

This housing story is part of a mini-series revealing the complex ways in which personal and political aspects of shelter provision interweave over time, and impact on multiple aspects of people’s lives. Space for strategic choice is nearly always available to some degree, but the parameters of that choice can be dramatically restricted or enhanced by context. The wide range of experience presented in this collection shines a light on the wealth of knowledge and insights about housing that our students regularly bring to the DPU’s learning processes.

A historic victory for gender equality in Chile

By Ignacia Ossul Vermehren, on 2 November 2020

By Ignacia Ossul Vermehren, Lieta Vivaldi & Camila Cociña


On Sunday 25th October, Chileans voted to overhaul the Pinochet-era Constitution. The country also determined that this new Constitution will be written by an assembly composed exclusively by elected citizens, half of whom will be women. In doing so, Chile will become the first country in the world to write a Constitution with gender parity.

Manifestation in Santiago for International Women’s Day, 8th March 2020. Galería Cima has recorded from above all events in Plaza Dignidad since October 2019. Source: Galería Cima


The protests and the overall claim for Dignidad

On 18th October 2019, simmering social unrest in Chile exploded. Led by students in response to Metro ticket price rises by 30 pesos, protests spread across the country, exposing deep inequalities and systemic injustice. “No eran 30 pesos, eran 30 años” (“It wasn’t 30 pesos, it was 30 years”) became a mobilising slogan for protesters that claimed several demands to address multifold inequalities experienced by the majority of people.

The protests were framed, in broad terms, as a response to the failure of the neoliberal system. While economic and social policies have for decades led to successful macro level indicators, the model has deepened disparities in terms of distribution, political power and representation. The consequent human rights violations and police brutality that followed the protests, only deepened the sense of injustice. Issues of representation of ethnic groups and women in politics played a key role, as well as demands related to pension, health and environmental issues, summarised under the overall claim for Dignidad (Dignity). The demands for change were so fundamental, wide-reaching and varied, that less than a month after the beginning of the protests the political establishment agreed on setting up a route map to write a new Constitution through a democratic process. One year and one week later, the country was finally given the chance to vote on whether or not to write a new Constitution, and if so, who would be responsible for writing it.

 

A new Constitution to address entrenched social inequalities

The results were overwhelming. With a large turnout across the country, 77.6% voted in favour of a new Constitution. Crucially, 78.99% determined that it should be written entirely by elected citizens, half of whom will be women, rather than both citizens and members of parliament.

How and why did a mobilisation driven against inequalities find an answer in a claim for a constituent process? And what do the results and the nature of the body in charge of writing the new Constitution tell us about the fight for gender equality in Chile and Latin America?

When social mobilisations and violence exploded in October 2019, many figures from the establishment claimed that they ‘didn’t see this coming’; while the statement seems to project some humility, it is hard to comprehend it in a country where the depth of inequalities and the ‘social gap’ had been widely researched and socialised by organisations from diverse sectors, as encapsulated by the report “Desiguales” (“Unequals”) published by UNDP in 2017. Even more, mobilisations and unrest against injustices in different arenas had grown exponentially: while students’ mobilisations for public education trembled the political agenda in 2006 and 2011, the last decade witnessed the emergence of massive protests around gender and indigenous rights, environmental concerns, and pension issues.

Looking back, what all these mobilisations had in common was a call for what the 2019 mobilisation coined as ‘dignity’. From a social justice perspective, the distribution aspect of inequality was only one of the elements at stake: claims for representation and parity participation have been central to all of them. While some legal reforms were introduced in each of these sectors as response to citizens’ claims, the impasse for structural change seemed to be always the same: the burden of the Constitution written during the dictatorship in 1980, and its limitations to adapt to the claims of the majority while concentrating power in a few. Unsurprisingly, the demand for a new Constitution had been growing as a significant claim by civil society groups and new political forces (who in 2013 articulated the campaign #MarcaAC), and also by authorities that led President Michelle Bachelet (2014-2018) to launch a first attempt of re-writing a democratic Constitution through self-organised local assemblies (for an assessment of that process, see here).

But the demand wasn’t just for any new Constitution, or any constituent process. While significant in itself, the overwhelming triumph for writing a new Constitution is as telling as the nature of the politics of representation of the body that will write it up. This representation was determined in March 2020, when parliament voted for any citizen-based constitutional convention to be gender equal, following long-term demands for gender parity. In voting for a new Constitution written exclusively by elected citizens, Chile has voted to become the first country to enshrine the equal representation of women and men in the writing of its Constitution.[1]

Poster in Santiago’s street. It reads: ‘Against all violence: neoliberal, clasist, racist and patriarchal. We resist to live, we fight to transfor”. Source: Ignacia Ossul, December 2019.


The key role of feminist movement(s)

 Chile has historically been one of the most conservative countries in terms of gender rights in Latin America; abortion was only made legal in 2017, and only on three grounds. Yet, it was the first country in Latin America to establish a Department of Women’s Services in the 1990s which became the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality in 2016. During Michelle Bachelet governments (2006-2010; 2014-2018) many progressive gender bills were put forward, such as the newly passed abortion law.

Progress has not been limited to legislation. Many believe last year’s extended protests were made possible by feminist groups, who played a key role both in setting the agenda and in mobilising people on the street. The 2016 feminist protests of “Ni Una Menos (‘Not one [woman] less’), in which thousands of women in Chile and across Latin America marched to demand the end of gender violence, is also seen to have prepared the ground for last year’s mobilisations. In May 2018, the “Chilean feminist revolution” took place. It began in universities with demands for equal rights in higher education, to stop sexual assault and to incorporate feminist theories and authors to the syllabus. These demands expanded later to different social inequalities caused by patriarchy and neoliberalism that were an important precedent to feminist demands from October 2019 onwards.

Many of the most enduring, widely shared and internationally recognised images of the protests were based in feminist demonstartions, whether through the performances of Un violador en tu camino” (‘A Rapist in Your Path’) by art collective “Las Tesis” and the giant textile banner “Borda sus Ojos in which women from across the country embroidered an eye to denounce police brutality implicated in 359 recorded eye injuries. The banner was subsequently displayed this year in the Museum of Memory and Human Rights.

During December 2019, thousands of women gathered in the national stadium in Santiago to perform “Un Violador en tu camino” (‘A Rapist in Your Path’) by Las Tesis. Source: “Las Tesis, Estadio Nacional” by pslachevsky under CC license.

The outcome of the plebiscite directly reflects the demands of feminist groups for more representation and parity in political participation in decision-making spaces. This victory has already set a precedent for representation and inclusion of other groups, which has been taken forward by a bill to include additional reserved seats for indigenous peoples in the writing of the Constitution, currently being debated in parliament.

The details of the referendum results, at this early stage, seem to manifest some of the intersectional claims for recognition and participation that had been raised over the last decade: first, the social gap and concentration of power of elites resistant to change was manifested by the fact that the option against the new Constitution only won in the three richest districts of Santiago,[2] which has led some to say that “No eran 30 pesos, eran 3 comunas” (“It wasn’t 30 pesos, it was 3 districts”); second, in a country where participation in elections had systematically decreased since the return of democracy in 1990, this plebicite witnessed an increase of turnout particularly in poor and segregated districts, such as La Pintana and Puente Alto in Santiago, with increased turnout from young urban groups, who were consistently seen as the most politically disaffected group; and finally, looking at the districts in which the support to the new Constitution was the highest (with triumphs of around 90%) they tend to be small towns or rural areas that had been at the eye of the storm of environmental conflicts over the last years, led by local communities against extractive companies. All in all, these results speak of a hope for change precisely from those groups that have been marginalised from the narratives of development and growth that have dominated the country, and women are not the exception.

Mapuche and Wiphala flags in manifestations, which took place every Friday in downtown Santiago. Source: Camila Cociña, December 2019.


The Constitution from a feminist perspective and how it could bring about change

In terms of gender equality, the opportunities in the Constitution for social change are immense, both in the recognition of women in decision-making spaces, as in the potential for a gender approach to the creation of the Constitution. Although the equal participation of women and men in the Constitutional convention alone does not guarantee feminist outcomes and the protection of women’s rights, particularly considering the wide diversity of age, class, ethnicity and political beliefs of the women involved, this remains a significant step towards improving gender representation in the country.

Before 2015, Chile had one of the lowest rates of female parliamentary participation in Latin America: 15.8% compared to the average of 27.8% in Latin America. It was only after the introduction of a new law on gender quotas for 40% of the candidates, that the percentage of elected women increased to 23%. This is still lower than the average in the region and far from Nordic countries, that have 42.5% of female representation in parliament.

To think a Constitution from a feminist perspective is much more than including an article establishing that men and women are equal before the law. Formal equality has proven to be completely insufficient in order to really guarantee women’s and sexual diversity rights.

On the one hand, feminist demands involve expanding rights that have been historically made invisible, such as domestic and reproductive labour, sexual and reproductive rights, and the prohibition of discrimination; additionally to incorporate gender perspective to rights that are already in the constitution, such as health care, education, and so on. On the other hand, a gender perspective implies questioning the politics of representation of diverse identities, knowledges and claims; then, writing a feminist Constitution means also to ensure a mechanism to distribute and negotiate power, ensuring that multiple and often marginalised identities are recognised in decision-making processes in the long term.

The constituent process is an opportunity to expand this approach to all government bodies: the equal representation of men and women in each state branch and institution is also crucial to ensure the inclusion of women and sexual dissidence in processes of decision making. Furthermore, Chile has subscribed and ratified international treaties with commitments to ensure several women’s rights, and the way in which the legal system includes them to then apply them by national courts, is also a matter of the constituent discussion. Last, the state should have specific obligations and duties in order to incorporate gender perspective in public policies, judicial decisions and national legislation.

Even if the outcome of the Constitution is unknown, the decision to vote for gender parity of those writing the Constitution is an enormous win for Chile, and a model for democratic politics of representation and parity participation around the world.

Graffiti in Santiago. It reads: ‘No fear / It was sadness, it was rage, it was us / New Constitution!’. Source: Camila Cociña, December 2019.

 

[1] Additional to these three districts (Las Condes, Lo Barnechea, Vitacura), there were another two small districts where the option against the new Constitution won (Antártica and Colchane, both of which are rural areas with military bases), making it to a total of 5 out of the 346 districts of the country. For a complete analysis of the territorial distribution of the results, see “Cartografías del apruebo: notas de trabajo”.

[2] Even if similar processes in other countries have ensured minimum quotas for women as candidates and elected representatives, this will be the first case in which the final composition of the body in charge of writing the new Constitution will be actually composed by 50% women. For more information, see “Facts and figures: Leadership and political participation”.

 

Ignacia (University College London), Lieta (U. de Chile and UAH) and Camila (University College London) are academics from Chile working on women’s rights, feminist theory, poverty, planning and urban equality.

Crafts as a way into politics: Chilean arpilleras

By Ignacia Ossul Vermehren, on 22 February 2019

Co-authored with Trinidad Avaria

What are the role of crafts in political processes? Can crafts be a tool for individual or collective awareness? Can they open space for social justice for women? In December, we undertook an explorative workshop in the city of Santiago to answer some of these questions with women making Chilean arpilleras (burlap in Spanish), which are tapestries embroidered with scraps of recycled fabrics. The workshop was organised by the Chilean NGO Casa del Encuentro of Fundación Santa Ana that works with low-income women and their children, providing practical work skills for women and a safe space for children to play.

The motivation of the workshop came from our personal experiences. Having both grown up in Chile, we were familiar with the craft and we were aware of its political connotation during the military regime (1970-1980s). Over the last decade, we have both worked with low-income women in the country, looking at the cross section between gender and class, in a country that remains mostly unequal, segregated and machista. And this specific craft was an interesting entry point to discuss women’s participation in social and public life.

“No compromise on justice”
Image: The William Benton Museum of Art


The history

 The first arpillera workshops were organised in 1974 by the Catholic Church, Vicarate of Solidarity and the Association of Families of the Detained-Disappeared. Concerned by human rights violations and women’s struggles, they supported a space for women to grieve and help each other, through sewing and embroidery. Thousands of low-income women participated in workshops making arpilleras, the motives of the embroidery was a way to denounce the cruelty of the dictatorship. As such, the production and sale of the arpilleras was clandestine. They were sold abroad, and were bought by people in exile as well as left-wing European supporters.

More than 200 arpillera workshops in low-income neighbourhoods across Santiago, transformed the private and feminine nature of sewing and embroidery into the production of “political objects” that both challenged the dictatorship (Grindon & Flood, p. 11, 2014; see also Krause, 2004), and provided emotional relief for women (Frank, 1996). In doing so, they strengthened their political awareness by socialising with other women in the same situation (Baldez, 2002), and encouraged each other to take action. Ultimately, the making of arpilleras was a way for many women to engage with politics (Boldt & White, 2011).

Women

In Latin America, it has been widely documented by feminist researchers that women’s political participation has been initiated by their roles as mothers (Baldez, 2002; Chaney, 1979). This does not necessarily challenges their traditional gender roles, but instead uses it to become active in the public sphere (Classic examples include, Madres de Mayo in Argentina and Ollas Comunes in Chile).  After the dictatorship, women were expected to go back to their traditional roles, as they no longer existed in a state of exception. However, what happens when democracy is institutionalised, but women remain in a position of inequality? What spaces to participate exist and how can they access those spaces? Almost 40 years have passed since the official arpillera workshops closed. However, low-income women in many parts of the country continue meeting to make tapestries, passing the knowledge from one to the other.

Fundación Santa Ana works in two of the same areas where these workshops started decades ago. In their experience, they see how the role of women is still shaped by deep gender and class inequalities. These are manifested in low employment opportunities and strong reproductive responsibilities, leaving them bound mostly to the private space of the household and with few spaces to socialise, beyond with their families. This does not only have consequences for the women themselves, but also to their children. As the NGO has documented, women confronted with the loneliness of raising children mostly on their own are likely to transfer that frustration to their children. It is in this context that the workshop emerges, as a way of understanding how women from the same area are able to play a different role and take up other spaces of socialisation and engagement beyond the home space.

The workshop

Workshop in Santiago de Chile exploring the meaning of arpilleras today, December 2018. Source: Authors

In December of 2018, we ran a workshop with Renca’s arpilleristas (women that make arpilleras) and women from the area. The arpilleristas have worked in the craft for 20 years, and lived through the dictatorship (although many would not discuss it), continue making arpilleras to sustain their households, and say that arpilleras “saved their lives” from depression, separations and other afflictions. During the workshop, they taught the craft and shared their stories.

From the workshop we can see that contemporary arpilleristas’ work does not necessarily target a specific political event, however it remains an important activity as a source of income – selling finished items in Chile and abroad – and as a space to socialise and support each other. Although living conditions are radically different to those during the dictatorship, the growing economic inequality of the country, paired with a machista culture and conservative gender legislation, keeps low-income women in a challenging position. As such, the three aims of arpilleras during the 1980’s – (i) economic support, (ii) a space to socialise, and (iii) create awareness and become effective leaders, remain relevant today.

References:

Baldez, L.(2002), Why Women Protest: Women’s Movements in Chile, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Boldt, K., & White, T. (2011). Chilean women and democratization: Entering politics through resistance as Arpilleristas. Asian Journal of Latin American Studies, 24(2), 27-44

Chaney, E. (1979). Supermadre: Women in politics in Latin America. Austin TX: University of Texas Press.

Grindon, G., & Flood, C. (editors) (2014). Disobedient objects. V&A Publications.

Krause, W. (2004) The role and example of Chilean and Argentinian Mothers in democratisation, Development in Practice, 14:3, 366-380.

The William Benton Museum of Art (2018). Accessed: https://benton.uconn.edu/exhibitions/arpilleria/images/

 

Ignacia is a Research Associate at UCL and has a PhD in Development and Planning (UCL). Trinidad is the director of Casa del Encuentro at Fundación Santa Ana and has a Master in Psychoanalysis (Universidad de Chile).

Towards an Autonomy of Housing – The Legacy of John F C Turner in Latin America and Beyond: Event Review

By ucfumkr, on 13 March 2017

 

Reflections from the ‘Towards an Autonomy of Housing’ event that took place on the 22nd of February 2017 and was presented by the UCL Development Planning Unit (DPU) as part of the series DPU Dialogues in Development.

turner1

 

Industrialisation, a well-known driver for rural to urban migration, creates the increased demand for housing as a by-product of a swelling city. Emerging cities in developing nations, lacking the capacity to respond to a rapidly increasing urban population tend to become inundated with the enormous demand for housing, which poses a problem with no immediate solution. A housing deficit left unaddressed gives rise to the development of informal settlements by people perceived to be left with limited options. In an effort to find their own solutions, settlers “illegally” create unplanned neighbourhoods in areas not fit for development and deficient of infrastructure and services.

 

In the case of Lima, rural migrants who rushed to the city for employment and enterprise found themselves in overcrowded and shabby ‘tugurios’. In the 1950’s, individuals frustrated with forking out huge portions of their income for high-cost rent in exchange for sub-standard living conditions formed community groups to plan major land invasions in the hills surrounding the centre of Lima. The strong networks formed by the invaders made it difficult for authorities to action any form of evictions against them. The invasions took place around the same time that John F. C. Turner, a British architect who had been closely examining housing policy and programs in Lima, wrote his first report in 1959. The government of Peru tried and successfully relocated some squatters to government land. However, the invaders of El Ermitaño stood their ground forcing authorities to develop strategies to take into account their needs through slum-upgrading, rather than to resist the young settlement. Turner, despite this, critiqued the implementation of these processes in his early career, finding them to be insubstantial in addressing the dwelling needs of the communities they were to service. The residents of El Ermitaño, with the help of Turner’s advocacy, were granted legal tenure and were able to avoid evictions and demand municipal services.

turner2

Dr. Katherin Golda-Pongratz, a German architect who followed Turner’s work closely while completing her PhD in Architecture in Peru, became interested in and is now referencing Turner’s contribution to El Ermitaño in her own work. She gave an anecdote about how the two have collaborated on the Spanish publication of the book Autoconstrucción which explores Turner’s 1948 writing. The book references Patrick Geddes’ pattern of relationships in the “notation of life” which has influenced much of Turner’s philosophy. The book will feature other articles written by John and translated in to Spanish including an entry for the magazine Architecture and Design that was the precursor to the film A Roof of My Own.

 

Golda-Pongratz further explained how the research process of completing Autoconstrucción led to the resurfacing of the 30 minute documentary guest-edited by Turner in 1963 and released the following year by the United Nations Centre for Building and Planning. The version originally released to the public aired void of an integral address from then President Fernando Belaúnde.

 

A Roof of My Own takes the viewer into the arena of the autonomy of housing in the 1960’s. It highlights the political, social and personal discourses of the time in the settlement of El Ermitaño in northern Lima and demonstrates how ordinary people were managers of their own house construction. The case of El Ermitaño underscores Turner’s concept that informal settlements are not to be viewed as a problem but an opportunity to provide solutions to the problem of housing.

 

In his introduction of the video, Turner touched on the relevance of the film in today’s housing climate where young professionals worldwide find themselves not earning enough to save for a downpayment on a home. They are instead forced to stay at home with their parents or are caught in a vicious cycle of settling in expensive, sub-standard housing which consumes most of their income, hindering their capacity to save. He also stated that housing policies that aim to provide homes that the poor cannot access is not a suitable to rectify a housing deficit.

 

turner3

A Roof of My Own has inspired Golda-Pongratz to continue the legacy of Turner’s work by creating a sequel to the film. She hopes to show her continuation in the same community centre in El Ermitaño where the original film was screened by the invaders. El Ermitaño is now considered an ‘arrival city’ where Golda-Pongratz anticipates that the second chapter will provide a link to the new generation of residents. The narrative will explore the precarious living conditions of families living on the lomas, increasing the pressure and encroaching on the fragile landscapes. The trailer for the new film asked probing questions relating to the ‘limits to growth’, the role of land traffickers in urban expansion as well as the role of the residents in place-making and shaping the future of the El Ermitaño.

You can view the lecture here:

You can hear the lecture in the audio podcast here:


Monique Rose is an Architect and Chevening scholar from Jamaica studying for a MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development. Her research interests are in housing and disaster risk management in the Global South. This year she has joined the UrbanArk Project team and will write her dissertation on the relationship between urban planning and disaster.