Housing has become a big news topic in Argentina since the announcement of the ProCreAr credit programme two weeks ago. The national government launched ProCreAr in order to finance mortgages and housing construction, and plans to fund the construction of 400,000 homes over the next four years. The amounts provided (up to $350,000 per family), interest rates, and monthly instalments, all vary according to a family’s monthly income.
Unlike the average, largely inaccessible bank loan, ProCreAr doesn’t ask for a minimum income. The idea is that every Argentine be able to access a house of their own. The government also hopes to give the economy a boost by increasing production and employment through the construction incentivised by the programme. During the official announcement of the loans last week, Deputy Economy Minister Axel Kicillof referred to a “housing crisis” in Argentina that ProCreAr aims to revert. It all sounds pretty good in theory, but the Indy headed to the streets to see what Argentines are really thinking – about this plan, but also about accessibility of housing in general. Here’s some of what we heard.
Portraits by Beatrice Murch
Horacio Asenjo, 70, Gardening Teacher, Lanús
My opinion is that if a young (married ) couple wants to buy their own house or apartment, both of them have to work and try to save as much as possible, because if not they can’t do it … For older people, like myself, we had different opportunities. You could build your own house or inherit your parents’ house, these things are more difficult now…It’s also hard to take out a loan because you have to meet a lot of requirements. You have to have a steady job, you have to have been working for a certain period of time. There is an incredible housing deficit here. The government is doing what it can. This government inherited a destroyed country, they’re doing what they can with measures like this one. They’re going to build 400,000 houses… but there is still going to be a lack of housing.
Lucas Cardozo, 32, Print Shop Worker, Pilar
For people who come from neighbouring countries like Paraguay or Bolivia it’s easier to access their own house, because they’re used to living in places that don’t have running water or gas. It’s very expensive to buy your own house, to buy a lot, to pay for the labour it takes to build a house. It’s also hard to sell properties right now, I’m trying to sell my house in the Province of Buenos Aires and it’s hard, because sales have been kind of stopped, because of the problem with dollar. You can’t take out loans in dollars and no one wants to sell houses in pesos, everyone wants to sell in dollars. Now, they came out with the new loans, and they give you $300,000, but it’s hard to buy anything with that money. I don’t know if the new program will make much of a difference because at first people will be able to buy more, but then they won’t be able to because they’ll have less of their salary at their disposal, because they’ll pay these instalments for many years and they’ll be losing a large part of their salary.
Norma Villafañe, 64, Housewife, Mendoza
We live in Mendoza. Luckily, we have our own house. I think the credit programme is a good thing, it’s good for young people. Hopefully it will work out and they’ll be able to carry out the plan like they say they will. It’s good that the government take care of these things. You have to invest in those kinds of things, and you have to make sure instalments are accessible. It’s very difficult to get a loan from a bank, but with this program people will be able to access housing, I think. There are many people living in very bad conditions. There are many slums, a lot of precarious housing, and there is more poverty lately. So it will be a very good thing, I think.
Juan Muñoz, 21, Graphic Design student, Colombia
I think that for a young person aspiring to have their own home it can get very complicated. I think that the new government programmes are a good option, but that there aren’t really many other options. It’s very difficult to get a loan from a bank because of the requirements. Obviously, for me it would be amazing to have my own house or apartment here, to avoid paying rent. With what you spend on a rent you could easily be paying for the instalments of a loan for a house, and then you have something of your own. I think it’s very necessary, and basic, but because of the way things are right now, it’s difficult for young people to have something of their own. I think the government’s program is a good measure, but we need more political programs of inclusion. Because even if the government loans don’t have so many requirements for income, for example, you still need to be earning a legal salary; people who don’t have a place to live or who live in precarious housing, they don’t have stable jobs, or if they do they’re paid under the table. Many things have to be regularised so that everything is a little more fair.