Building to improve lives in Guatemala
Over half the Guatemalan population has inadequate housing. In some areas, houses are improvised and lack running water and electricity. Living in shelters made of cardboard, steel sheets, stones and pieces of wood, families are cramped and exposed to unhealthy conditions, the elements and natural disasters.
The Guatemalan government has focused its attention on housing needs in Guatemala, thanks to subsidies from the Fondo Guatemalteco de Vivienda-FOGUAVI (Guatemalan Fund for Housing), together with contributions from the private sector, including financing corporations, banks, non-government organizations, cooperatives and international donors.
However, the poorest families are not subject to credit so they cannot be included in the housing programs, even though they may survive on less than $1 per day per person. Some families have only one room in which to sleep, cook, and sometimes to even raise domestic animals.
The Constru Casa Association was created to improve the living conditions of the poorest people, offering construction of very low-cost housing.
Averaging 60 new houses per year, Constru Casa started in 2004 with the belief that by improving the material and physical conditions of housing, living conditions would improve and as a result, the physical and mental health of the families. Constru Casa works with other organizations involved in education and health programs, which often serve the most vulnerable groups of the communities.
The life style of the families may improve with better quality housing. Also, self esteem as well as physical and mental health will improve considerably with a new home, from which families will also improve their social and economic activities. The construction of a new home provides families a new form of security, self esteem, health and hygiene.
In these families many women work at home, so a new home brings a better work environment. The construction of a house requires the help of volunteers, carpenters, masons and helpers—and the families themselves. Working toward this common goal strengthens the bonds of solidarity.
The project also provides job opportunities for the local population and the opportunity to establish contacts between Constru Casa, the companies and local suppliers that collaborate with the construction. This applies to the hiring of tradesmen, the notary who prepares the contract and others.
Constru Casa offers the construction of one house for each selected family. The head of the family commits to pay a percentage of the construction, which is financed for two years. The cost varies according to the type of house selected. There are no requirements on the size of the family; attention is placed on the physical and material conditions of the family.
Constru Casa has already constructed new houses in the departments of Guatemala, Sacatepéquez, San Marcos, Totonicapán, Quiché, Escuintla, Chimaltenango, El Progreso and Baja Verapaz. It has been able to build these houses due to the collaboration of local and foreign organizations and companies. It has made alliances with construction companies that donate a percentage to the association for each house sold. It also receives donations for materials, roofing, doors and windows, cement, etc. Constru Casa is ready to build more houses to help families in need and to reduce the housing deficit in Guatemala.