Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cuba: Impressive Housing Results in 2006

The United States saw more housing units constructed in 2005 than it had in history (2.15 million according to the US Census). Still, this paled in comparison to the effort of the Cuban state in 2006, which produced 110,000 units, or 85 units per 1000 people. The US number is 71 units per every 1000.

Like most countries in the world (including the US), Cuba has a housing shortage. Even though the housing stock has grown by 80% on the island since the Revolution, a growth rate much faster than population growth (57%), it has not been enough to house all those young families and singles who desire a place of their own. Cost is not so much the issue as is availability.

To this end, Cuba embarked on an ambitious program in 2006. It spent $300 million on new housing units, or roughly $3,000 per unit - an amazing figure in itself. In California, houses cost at least $300,000 to build without profit and without land costs factored in.

Unlike in the US, where nearly all but the few thousand subsidized apartments go to those able to pay market prices for homes (maybe the top 20% of the country) - in Cuba the new units are distributed accroding to need and social criteria such as those living in overcrowded homes.

While we're on housing, it is worth mentioning that more Cubans own their homes than in the US and most other nations in the world. This is because the Revolutionary Urban Reform Law declared that all new housing would cost just 10% of Cubans salary and would be paid off between 10 and 20 years. Also, rent by law, can not cost more than 10% of salary. In the US, most pay upwards of 25% of their income and the poor usually pay more than 30% (a guideline even the US government considers unacceptably high). Also, the propostion of those in Cuba living in good living conditions has gone from 57% to more than 80% since the Revolution.

The main reason for the differences: in Cuba housing is considered a right and is connected to larger issues of equality and fairness. Housing is not a commodity, but a means of ensuring equal access to jobs, health, schools and culture. Here in the US, where housing is 100% a commodity, we see the results in our segregation, our inequality, our divisions.

Still Cuba knows it has a ways to go (Granma noted continued insufficiencies) and is looking at repeating the results in 2007.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In April 2006, during my 3rd annual visit to the Santiago/Chivirico area, I saw a large number of new homes under construction. In all but one, the government was the builder using local tradesmen and government inspectors. The would-be owners are involved to some extent and have 10-20 years to pay off the house.

I had never seen houses being built before and this will address a pressing need in the area.

I also visited people who had new pressure cookers, kitchen cookers and refrigerators. All electrical appliances were energy-efficient.

The families have pay for them at what appear to be low prices.

Even more surprising, everyone from Chivirico to 12 miles east now had telephones (cost - about $3.25 one-time plus about 25-35 cents per month subscription).

I will be visiting again in March or April and can't wait to see what else has changed.

12:37 PM  
Blogger jsb said...

That's more than Venezuela built in the past year. Administrations previous to Chavez were able reach those numbers. Perhaps the embargo against Venezuela is the problem, oh wait, there is no embargo against Venezuela. So how is is that Cuba beats Venezuela's numbers on housing? Somehow, I doubt the veracity of the numbers you present. If a socialist oil rich country can't bring itself to build 100,000, I doubt Cuba can.

9:41 AM  
Blogger jsb said...

" The more than 100 thousand lodgings, new and refurbished, concluded this year...."

So what's the percentage of "new" vs. "refurbished".

Your blog post is misleading in that it states "Cuban state in 2006, which produced 110,000 units, or 85 units per 1000 people. "

They produced x number of units and refurbished x number of existing units leading to the 110,000 figure. Still impressive. Even if most are "refurbished". But clearly, these are not new dwellings.

9:53 AM  
Blogger jsb said...

And the units in the U.S. are new. That's 71 per thousand NEW, not including remodeled, pre-existing stock.

I don't know why I bother because you'll believe even the most outrageous propaganda from the island.

9:55 AM  
Blogger jsb said...

Sorry, I forgot to add my source:

Matthew, if you want to delete the multiple comments, go ahead. I should have collected all of this into one comment. The point is, simply, that the numbers as you present them are false.

9:56 AM  
Blogger leftside said...

JSB, I can't figure out the real distribution of new units versus rehabbed from the English translations. The Granma article said "110,000 new housing units," your PL says "more than one hundred thousand, new and refurbished." It's possible both are correct...

According to Granma, "an additional 70,000 homes are slated for construction in 2007 as well as the repair of another 150,000."

9:34 AM  
Blogger jsb said...

So, basically your blog post was wrong. Unless they built 110,000 brand new units, which they certainly did not if "70,000" is their target figure for the following year. The estimated ratio for the following year shows twice as many refurbs as new construction. Applying that ration one might guess that the number of new homes built in '06 was approximately 50,000 or so, with 50,000 or so refurbs.

9:58 AM  
Blogger jsb said...

..."ratio", I mean.

10:00 AM  
Blogger leftside said...

2006 was to be the year they really focussed on housing, so I would not be suprised that they built more this year than they project for next.

12:05 PM  
Blogger jsb said...

Call 'em up and ask them what the real numbers break down into. Matt, I'll bet you a steak dinner they didn't build 100,000 new units.

4:39 AM  
Blogger leftside said...

I sent an email...

12:20 PM  
Blogger jsb said...

And your email didn't support your post. Your post still remains false. The Cuban government DID NOT build 110,000 new units of housing. Over 1/2, if not more, of the units cited were simply remodels of existing structures. A correction is in order.

8:10 AM  
Blogger leftside said...

I sent an email to the Cuban Interests section in DC that is.

We don't know what is false. Your source said "more than a hundred thousand dwelling units." Others sources said 110,000 newly constructed units.

But I will admit that it appears like the correct breakdown is what you are saying. It is still a remarkable achievement - all the more so because the beneficiaries are the most in need. In the US if you are poor and your home gets rehabbed, it is likely you are no longer going to be living there. We have virtually no rehab assistance programs - and they are more cost effective than building new.

9:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home