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The goal of the Self-Management Popular Shelter and Habitat Program (1979) is to contribute to the search of solutions to the housing problem, experienced by the lower income sectors of irregular settlements, through an educational and formative process for the self-managing community organization, structured in civil housing associations ASOVIV; the integral assistance on organizational, social, technical, administrative, financial and legal aspects, as well as on financial support through credits granted to the families, members of ASOVIV. This model bases its success upon the improvement of the community's housing and habitat.
In Venezuela, as in most Latin American countries, the insufficient and dependent industrialization has being accompanied by an extraordinary demographic growth in the cities. One of the characteristics of this process was the rise and fast expansion of settlements that do not follow the regular urban and state control procedures. This phenomenon experienced an accelerated growth up to the 80's. Its expansion was much more intense than the one experienced by urban population. The rise of slums as urban realities is one of the consequences of said process. The slums are a mechanism used by displaced inhabitants to integrate themselves to the cities.
The array of houses that nowadays make up the slums, in the country's main cities, has been transformed, some totally, and some not so visible, and they represent these families' savings investment. Even though slums are a collective phenomenon, each house has a particular history, linked to its inhabitants' live. Housing is a need among others, its importance lays on the array of needs that the family group has not satisfied. Its satisfaction is framed by continuity, it builds up as other problems are solved, with the evolution of the family group (increase in the family's income, work stability), and the residential environment. This dynamic nature constitutes one of the keys to address the housing issue as a process without pre-established limits in which men's capability to build himself a habitat has been demonstrated.
In this context, the Foundation for Popular Shelter (FVP), a non-governmental organization for the development addressing housing and habitat issues, started, from 1975, to design a model aimed at contributing in the solution of lower income families' housing problems. Thus breaking the paradigm of the housing law in force at the time, which did not foster formal financing options for the inhabitants of irregular settlements, due to the lack of mortgage guarantee, and the lack of confidence regarding the recovery of popular credits.
The proposed model was put into effect in 1979, supporting the slums construction processes, though families' training Civil Associations for Shelter (ASOVIV).
The program starts by realizing that efforts undertaken by the family groups to improve their houses are not always translated into an improvement of their living conditions. This is due to 2 factors: their resources are not enough for that end, together with the fact that there are no financial mechanisms available to the formal sector, and second, the lack of technical knowledge was a danger to the whole investment. All this is linked to the changes in the users' interest and to the decay of the constructions initial stages, in view of the process length in the sectors.
To address said problems a non-traditional organizational body was created. The same was to offer financing and integral technical assistance to associated families. ASOVIVs are made up by slums inhabitants, and are trained to provide their associates with assistance.
ASOVIV's task is based on two principles, the construction continuity and the consolidation of housing in slums, and the participation and guidance of ASOVIV by its associates, since the program is based upon the performance of a participative organizational structure managed according to a ruling body.
The program's development is accompanied by an educational process that contemplates the psychosocial, technical, administrative and legal aspects. This provides them the tools needed to undertake autonomously ASOVIV's functions.
Based on these principles, an operative system with four components was designed; an organization with legal status of its own and decision making power (ASOVIV), an advising body (FVP), mechanisms and execution systems (statutes and standards), and financial resources used and reintegrated by associated families (loan fund). Financial resources will be derived both from external bodies (public or private), as well as from other sources (international).
The procedure designed by the Foundation for Popular Shelter for the allotment of economic resources to ASOVIVs is as follows: first, an agreement between FVP or sponsoring body and ASOVIV is undersigned, where the loan conditions are stipulated; ASOVIV, in turn, signs an agreement with its associates at the time of granting them the credit. The association is liable for the loan's administration, granting, collection and retrievement.
Since 1979, 17 ASOVIVs have been created in several Federal Entities of the country, directly benefiting 1,826 families, and generating 1,292 jobs in the slums. Around eighty million Bolivars (about 500,000 US$) have been granted in credits, both with FVP's own resources and with public bodies resources. This has compensated in a 35% the families' expenses devoted to housing. ASOVIV's have been participative, educational and financial bodies, developed by the community and for the community, that is, inhabitants that have faced the challenge of solving their housing problems, solving, at the same time, other problems such as infrastructure and utilities.
The result of the model in 16 different communities generated a demo effect that matched FVP's goal (to contribute to the search of solutions to the housing problem, experienced by the lower income sectors of irregular settlements, through the design of social action models to be used by other institutions). This also gave rise to a multiplying effect, for currently the model has been transmitted and is being used by other institutions, both public and private. Likewise, this experience has been taken as a reference model in the National System of Technical Assistance to the Law of Housing.
In 1990, with the enforcement of the Law of Housing, the conditions are created for ASOVIV's model massification. This represent a change in the traditional policy, since the State will foster the creation of a civil society network in order to solve the housing problems of the most vulnerable population. The Law also considers, in its Operation Standards, the creation of a National System of Technical Assistance (SNAT). It aims at fostering the promotion, formation and constitution of governmental and non-governmental organizations, to provide technical assistance to the societies organized in civil associations or housing cooperatives. The goal is to foster the strengthening of communities and the local development, so that the organized population is able to participate in the decisions that affect its habitat. The plans designed will be carried out by intermediaries; Intermediary Organizations for Shelter (OIV), that will educate and provide integral assistance to the Community Organizations for Shelter (OCV).
The Law of Housing creates the conditions and fosters the implementation of systems with a structure similar to the one foreseen by FVP since 1979. In fact, OIV-OCV's structures will work as FVP-ASOVIV's.
1,282 jobs were generated in slums (construction workers) as part of this program. Also, the ASOVIV model has been adopted by other public and private institutions. Likewise, this model has been taken as a reference for the current standards for shelter.
The Self-Management Popular Housing and Habitat Program of the Foundation for Popular Shelter can be considered as a sustainable experience, since it has been active for 16 years, based on the social participation of committed families. All this has been achieved through civil housing associations ASOVIV, integrally trained, constituted, and technically counseled to work in communities of irregular sectors in the improvement and consolidation of the existing houses. Thus acting within the framework of an educational and formative process vis-à-vis the laws that rule the housing situation, search, management and recovery of economic resources that -through credits- allow families to have access to financing, even though they lack the traditional guarantee (land ownership).
The model's sustainability is likewise guaranteed by the multiplying effect that the Foundation for Popular Shelter has fostered through the model transmission to other institutions, both public (local, regional and national government) as well as private (non-governmental institutions - ONG), thus facilitating the work of the committed social actors, and contributing to the constitution of new housing organizations, that use the community association model (ASOVIV). This has favored the decentralization process and the local development.
Foundation for Popular Shelter
Foundation for Popular Shelter
Association for Slums Program Assistance (APROMEBAR), Caracas, D.F.
Benito Alvarez Foundation, Maracay, State of Aragua.
Mortgage Bank Foundation, Chacao, State of Miranda.
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