Today, six of the nine families renting in our Estela de Esperanzas* building (La Boca, Buenos Aires), rely on a woman that is both mother and head of the household.
What does being “head of the household” involve? Although the National Statistics Institute does not provide a clear and accurate definition –as the only requirement is for the head of the household to be older than 15 years old–, we understand that it involves a combination of being the decision maker and the person who provides financial support to cover household expenses as well as those of the other members of the family.
Women renting in our building –at the market price– have a long history of obstacles and conflict when it comes to finding a place to live. Not only do they have to deal with the difficulties faced by any low or middle income person when it comes to renting, but also with the gender issue and the lack of equality that positions them as the most excluded from the housing market.
This is due to the fact that women are generally in charge of the upbringing of their children, whether the father is present or not. Moreover, there are many cases in which, even with a court sentence or a mediation agreement, they do not receive the money they should be paid as child support. The main reason for this, apart from irresponsibility on the part of the fathers, is that they have informal jobs (undeclared) and, therefore, there is no salary from which to force payment under the law.
Not only do mothers have to deal with higher expenses –that depend entirely on them when their children are underaged– but also with having to spend a great part of their time taking care of and accompanying their children. As a result, they have less access to job opportunities, which impacts directly on the salary they could earn. Taking all this into account and considering how hard it is for them to enter into a rental contract and to fulfill the requirements for entry (paying 3 months in advance, a deposit, a surety insurance, the costs of document duty, etcetera), their real chances of gaining access to a proper and fair place to live are basically nonexistent.
Therefore, we want to express how proud we are of being witnesses of the effort and fight of these women. Each mother should have fair access to a place to rent that is adequate for her family. We are committed to keep trying to find the way to make access to rent a reality for those who find themselves excluded from the market today.