Venezuela Builds New Housing for Its People

Venezuela’s Housing Mission Constructs Almost 100,000 Homes in First Seven Months
By Ewan Roberston

Mérida, November 17th ( – 95,912 houses and apartments have been built in the first seven months of Venezuela’s massive house building program, the “Great Housing Mission” (GMV), confirmed energy and petroleum minister Rafael Ramirez yesterday.

Of these, 59,730 (62%) were built by the public sector and 36,182 (38%) by the private sector reported Ramirez, who is also Vice-president of the government’s Superior Housing Authority, which convened in the north-western state of Zulia yesterday.

“This is a number without precedent...there has never been so much done in one year” he commented with regards to the Venezuelan state’s contribution to the figures.

Launched on 30th April 2011, the government’s GMV program seeks to close Venezuela’s long-term housing deficit and ensure that everyone in the country has adequate housing. According to the government, the mission aims to build two million homes in seven years.

The program’s goal for 2011 is to build a total of 150,000 houses, followed by 200,000 in 2012 and 300,000 each year thereafter until 2017.

However, the national registration process for families needing new homes, completed toward the end of October, revealed that just under 2,711,000 families in Venezuela are in need of their own or a new home. As a result, the Venezuelan government has increased the GMV’s goal to correspond to this figure, and now aims to build a total of 2,725,648 homes, Ramirez stated.

The minister further added that 286,180 homes are currently in construction around the country for completion in the remainder of 2011 and 2012, with the 10,000 hectares of land needed to build these already available.

Public Sector and Grassroots Efforts to the Fore

The new figures also demonstrate the growing role of Venezuela’s public sector and grassroots organisations in the country’s house building industry.

With 62% of all new housing in Venezuela completed in the public sector so far this year, as compared with only 30% in 2009, the share of Venezuela’s public sector in the nation’s house building industry has more than doubled in two years.

Furthermore, of housing constructed by the public sector so far this year, 48% (28,202) was undertaken with the participation of grassroots “popular power” initiatives, particularly the Integral Participation of Habitats (TIH) and Substitution of Shanties for Houses (Suvi) programmes.

Communal councils throughout the country have also been encouraged by the government to form “construction communes” and contribute to house building programs in their local communities.

When the GMV was launched, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez stressed the importance of grassroots participation for the program’s success, stating “nobody knows how to build houses better than the people...if we want to put an end to poverty, then we must give power to the poor. This is the main principle of the socialist revolution”.

Reflecting on grassroots participation so far in the program, Ramirez commented yesterday that “the Venezuelan people, through various organisations of popular power, have turned themselves towards the resolution of these problems [of housing]...the whole people are completing the goals of the Great Housing Mission”.

Ramirez also emphasised the importance of the increase in public sector house building for stimulating the nation’s house building industry as a whole in order to achieve the GMV’s goals, arguing that “under capitalism the housing problem doesn’t have a solution, [as] it converts housing into a business”.

The increase in public sector housing construction also involves efforts to develop a national construction industry.

These include the establishment of the new National Public Works Company to manage publicly-owned construction equipment in August this year, and the announcement in October of a new national cement distribution system to increase access to the material produced by the country’s nationalised cement factories.

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