Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced a new initiative Monday to provide free housing for 100,000 of Colombia’s poorest families over the next 24 months.
Santos’ proposal is based on policies that have been successful in Brazil, Chile and Mexico, and is one facet of the government’s larger effort to create jobs and reduce poverty in the country.
“We are going to award housing to the poorest of the poor, in the first phase, 100,000 houses completely free, without bank loans,” said Santos in a presidential address.
The new policy represents a shift from the old system in which housing subsidies were only awarded to those who also obtained bank loans.
“It will end the requirement that housing subsidies be supplemented by a bank loan, which means that we will deliver subsidies to cover the total, hundred-percent value of their homes. In other words, we are talking about totally free housing for the poorest in the country,” said the president.
Santos said that this change was necessary to ensure housing for Colombia’s poorest, who are largely unable to obtain assistance from banks as they are inelligible for loans.
“This popular housing policy does not replace what we’re doing on housing, which is giving such good results, but complements it and helps us to focus resources on the poorest,” said Santos.
The proposed policy would divide housing between families who lost their homes due to natural disasters and those in high-risk areas who have been displaced by violence.
Santos’ plan requires new legislation and he said he intends to present a bill to Congress this week which will enable the government to implement the proposed policy.