In 2008, Habitat for Humanity Argentina transformed an empty, unsafe and dilapidated building into an apartment complex where nine families now formally rent. This apartment building, known as the Estela de Esperanzas project, began as a pilot model. Today, their success encourages us to continue looking for ways to expand and have a greater impact to provide access to adequate rentals on fair terms for the people who need it most.
Urban strategy and rentals
Aimed at offering a solution for families that today live in precarious rental situations, we seek to address one of the urban housing problems. The knowledge on this issue that Habitat for Humanity Argentina has capitalized on is based on the research and experience of the Estela de Esperanzas project, which recovered an uninhabited space in the City to transform it into 8 apartments that are formally rented out to families living in tenements, tenants or boarding houses.
This constantly evolving initiative has been influencing the sector for more than ten years and positioning rental as a legitimate form of access to the city.
After this long journey, our work is geared towards possible changes in systems, practices and policies aimed at improving access to fair rent for more people. In a city where more than 30% of the population rents, and which generates so much exclusion and barriers for those who do not meet the formal entry requirements, it is essential to search for measures and models that provide a scale response to this reality.
Estela de Esperanza Building
The first and only property acquired by Habitat for Humanity Argentina for this project is located at Hernandarias 674, located in the La Boca neighborhood of the City of Buenos Aires. During a year, the necessary financing was secured to start the project and, after two years, the permits were obtained to start the construction of an 8-apartment building. Through a great task of advocacy, patience and perseverance, and with the support of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires in the last stage, permission was obtained to dismantle the structure in poor condition of the old conventillo * that was built in the purchased lot.
During this time, Habitat for Humanity Argentina decided to open the tenement and allow the observation of the living conditions of the people behind the facades. Hundreds of people (officials, academics, NGOs, businessmen) visited Hernandarias 674 and its surroundings and, in this way, the reality of a population made invisible by the informality of its housing situation was made known.
In 2011, the approvals of the dismantling and construction plans were achieved and construction began in July 2012. Almost at the same time, the selection process of the first families of the neighborhood who would be the beneficiaries of the project began, and that Today they live in tenements, tenants or boarding houses, through referrals from local organizations. This process took into account the family’s willingness to overcome its informal situation and its ability to assume responsibility for a formal rent payment, in addition to the costs of a consortium. Today 8 families live in the building in conditions identical to any formal rental in the city.
Today, this project has several lines of action:
- Education, support and skills empowerment program for residents of the southern area of the City of Buenos Aires. Through participation in these spaces and improving their knowledge about the law of rents and tenant rights, families were able to formally rent on their own.
- Seek to enable apartments for formal rent to families that today pay to stay in precarious and risky spaces. This can be through recycling buildings or apartments, or accompanying families to make this change.
- He was a finalist in the International Relief and Development Project of the Year category of the UK Project Management Association competition in 2009.
- In April 2011, she was recognized with the Ashoka Changemaker Award: Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating to Create Inclusive Cities.
- It was presented at the 3rd Asia Pacific Housing Forum, at the invitation of Habitat for Humanity International and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Bangkok in September 2011.
- It was presented during the participation of Habitat for Humanity Argentina in the conference on Housing and Health organized by the Tres de Febrero University through its UNESCO Chair.
- In October 2016, at the Habitat III event, the systematization of the experience was presented, which was in charge of Ana Cutts (Director) and María Elena Acosta, volunteer in charge of the systematization.
- In January 2017, the presentation made to the Call for Inspiring Practices for the New Urban Agenda, based on our experience working in rentals, received an Honorable Mention from UN-HABITAT.