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Cemex proposes model for affordable housing

World Cement,

Cemex has proposed a new model for the development of affordable housing at the World Economic Forum on Latin America 2010 held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. Jesus Gonzalez, president of Cemex in Central America, presented this proposal at the session “Eradicating Housing Deficits.”

Gonzalez contributed to the round table on strategies for reducing the housing deficit in developing countries by proposing a new strategy based on Cemex’s successful experiences in providing affordable housing solutions. Gonzalez argued that the problems facing many low-income families, including the poor condition of self-constructed homes, common irregularities in land titles, the high cost of urbanisation in relation to the average income, and the escalating housing deficit, are a result, in part, of ineffective paradigms.

Cemex’s proposal is based on the notion that lower-income individuals are capable of generating savings to pay for their own house. “Through our Patrimonio Hoy program, we have been able to recognise that with the right assistance, a family and an entire community can put aside the necessary funds to keep up with their payment commitments,” Gonzalez explained, rejecting the belief that low-income populations have no saving capabilities.

This new model set forth by Cemex seeks to establish rent schemes as a viable alternative to homeownership. This new view implies that public policies be reformed to balance the protection of the interests of landlords and tenants, promoting ownership patterns based on associations and cooperatives, and allow the opportunity for lease-to-own options.

Another barrier to overcome is the need to build housing faster while simultaneously reducing costs through innovative solutions. “There are new construction techniques, for example, using frames for concrete construction that allow for the basic structure of a house to be ready in four days”, Gonzalez said. This must be complemented by government initiatives that cut red tape in construction permits. Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama have already made significant strides in this regard, reducing costs and turnaround of new projects significantly.

The last idea highlighted by CEMEX is that low-income housing projects are attractive for developers. Gonzalez commented that “large companies and developers have come together bringing resources, technology and know-how to the benefit of the housing sector”. In this regard, Colombia and Mexico are both prime examples. “Alleviating the housing deficit that prevails in Latin America requires a joint effort between the public and private sectors as well as NGO’s. We must build new alliances between governments, developers, financial entities, and communities to develop significant housing projects” he finalised.

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