Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Castro lets Cubans build their own homes

Castro lets Cubans build their own homes

Facing intense demand for housing, the communist government of President
Raul Castro is granting permits that let Cubans build homes with their
own resources, officials said Tuesday.

In communist Cuba, where the state runs the economy, home building until
now has been a government affair.

Cuba, with 11.2 million people, has a severe housing shortage aggravated
by three hurricanes that tore through the island two years ago, damaging
half a million homes and causing 10 billion dollars in damage.

According to government figures more than half a million homes are needed.

The Cuban government announced in 2006 a goal of building 100,000 new
homes a year, a target that eventually was cut in half.

Last year Castro authorized Cubans to "build your homes with whatever
you can."

Cuba's Housing Institute has started granting "self-effort" building
permits, the state-run Radio Rebelde said Tuesday.

The permits are to build new homes, or expand or repair existing homes,
Institute president Roberto Vazquez said.

More than 80 percent of Cubans are homeowners, but by law cannot sell
their homes. They can however swap them under a government system called
the permuta.

Some building materials are sold in government run stores at subsidized
prices, but most are sold in stores that only accept foreign currency.

It was not immediately clear how most Cubans, who make an average of
about 20 dollars a month, might obtain supplies with which to build.

People who receive money sent back by family living abroad, a small
minority, certainly look likely to benefit.

Average Cubans often turn to the black market and buy construction
materials pilfered from government supplies or construction sites.


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