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Project on Sites and Services for Low-Income Family Groups

Keywords: Homelessness & Housing
Social Exclusion/Integration


This is a project on sites and services for family groups with a low income living in the north area of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was carried out by APAC, a civil association with no profit pourposes working in habitat themes with marginal populations, themes concerning both land and housing. The project (named Plan URBE- Barrio Don Bosco) consists in 173 plots provided with a basic infrastructure such this:

1) water supply system
2) electricity supply system
3) road constructions
4) open rainwater drainage system
5) light pillars
6) streets lighting

This new neighbourhood is located in Benavidez, a small village about 40 miles from Buenos Aires.


The project is based mainly in two facts that reflect the circumstances that must be faced by many families living in the Gran Buenos Aires and other cities in Argentina. The facts stated are the following:

1) The lack of answers on part of the Estate to attend the necessities of a great part of the population with an important lack of income.
2) once this population could afford a site with infrastructure as the ones provides by this project in Barrio Don Bosco, they were able to build their houses through their own work using free time, often been helped by relatives and friends. Through solutions like this a group of families could afford a site, move perhaps in a precarious way (in a wooden house, for example) and for then onwards start building their definite house in a period of time in accordance with their economic situation. In this way the emergency problems are rapidly solved and there is time to finish the final house.

The project will be descripted according the following items:
1) Location. 2) Physical aspects. 3) Social aspects. 4) Economic and financial aspects. 5) Legal aspects. 6)Project record.
1.- Location: the project is located in the periphery of Benavidez, a village with a population of less than 20.000 inhabitants in the District of Tigre, north of Buenos Aires City. The surroundings of the project are formed by neighbourhoods of low density with sites of between 250 to 300 mts2 and low quality houses with one family per house. Streets are not paved. There is a primary scool in the adjoining neighbourhood with a capacity of 300 pupils. The less important social services can be found in Benavidez and the most complexes ones are offered in Tigre, about 30 miles far from Benavidez.
2.-Physical aspects:
Determinated mainly for municipals regulations, the plan grid allowed to obtain only 173 sites because the dimensions required: 400 mts2 of surface minimum and 15 m width plots. It was also stated that the new streets had to be extensions of the existing ones. This resulted in a rigid plan. The surfaces fluctuate between 400 mts2 and 550 mts2.The infrastructure issues were carried out in accordance with the Use of Land Province Law and they was:
a) Measurement and delimitation
b) Opening of roads and soil movements for the levelling of the sites.
c) Drainage at the cross-roads.
d) Perforations, installing of submergible pumps and domiciliary drinking water supply system.
e) Aerial supply system of electricity of medium and low tension for domiciliary use.
f) Provision and installing of lights prescribed by regulations for streets lighting.
3) Social aspects:
One of the most important aspects in this project. A team of Social Workers established the Selection Criteria:
a) the future owners must be families or family groups with small children.
b) they had to be in habitat emergency.
c) lack of other property
d) The group will could afford the payment of a first sum of money and later the monthly payments according to the plan explained hereinafter.
e) the group must move to the plot in about 6 months from the moment of the possesion.
The Social Area established a set of meetings with the following aims: acknowledgement and appropiation of the place (future neighbourhood), group interchange and strengthening of the bonds among the neighbours., making the neighbours recognise leaders among themselves (possible representatives), give advice in the process of neighbourhood organisation, and back up the possible representatives through a process of training.
Total population of the project= 815 people ( 412 male, 403 female).
4) Economic aspects:
This project recived no economical aids from any source, not from the Estate at any level nor from the external or internal agencies of development.Although the possibilities of the solution was demonstrated through the experience of the PSU -Programa Social de Urbanizacion, having participated in such experience the Bank of the Province of Buenos Aires and the Inter-american Foundation. In spite of the facts above mentioned, APAC and Don Bosco that recived the reimboursement of the money invested in the infrastructure of Barrio Esperanza (Benavidez) -PSU- decided to develop a new experience on sites and services, inserting suitable changes that aroused from the evaluation of previous actions. The definite budget for the new urban plan resulted as follows:
a) Land us 140.000
b) Water supply system us 90.000
c) Electricity supply system us 100.000
d) Road constructions us 70.000
e) Streets lightning us 10.000
f) Light pillars us 17.000
g) Surveyor fees and hydraulic project us 20.000
h) Work structure us 80.000

TOTAL us 527.000.

Area and cost of the sites: as it was already stated the area of the plots resulted from the municipal regulations.

173 plots were obtained as follows:
Type A ( 550 mts 2)= 6 with a cost of us 4.500.-
" B ( 490 " )=12 " 4.000.-
" C ( 450 " )=63 " 3.800.-
" D ( 400 " )=92 " 3.500.-

The owners had to pay the price of their plots in the following way:
1) an inicial payment of us 200 as Registration.
2) us 400 at the signature of the Sale Contract
3) 8 monthly payments of us 75
4) 38 or 48 monthly payments to cover remaiders
1+2+3 sum us 1.200. With this sum (multiplied for 173) and the apported by the entities was possibly afford the infrastructure costs. This was one of the important changes in the way of work.

The great difference between this project and the business of division of land has to do with various items that contributed to lower the final cost of the sites. These items are the following: a) lack of profits pourposes from the promoting entities. b) lower prices per sq. metre obtained from the purchase of the land with no divisions, this means with no improvements. c) a strict following on the infrastructure costs.d) the adaptability of the payments to the possibilities of the owners, with a low fixed interest and a number of 36 to 48 payments up to the final possesion.e) the possibility of notarise the sites gratuitously through the Court Clerk of the Government of the Province (it is a "social interest project").

Prices of similar sites in the surroundings (with no water supply) were taken account as a comparative data:
a site of 400 mts2. is valued in us 8.000.- payable 50 % in cash and the remainder in no more than 6 payments with a monthly interest of 3 %, plus the cost of the middleman of about 4%. Another site of 300 mts2 cost in cash us 6.000.- Both cases the sites have no improvements. The prices represents us 20/22 per sq. metre. The price of the sites in Don Bosco is the 40% of these values ( us 8,20 per sq. metre ) with payments of 36 and 48 months.

PROJECT RECORD: we can summarise this project taken account the physical aspects of the land, the gradual changes of the population throughout the experience and the innovative development concerning the way the promoting entities carried out this plan.

The population in the neighbourhood came from different places although a great part of it lived in the surroundigs of the land choosen for the project. Most of the people lived with their parents or near relatives, in slums or by renting a house or room. From the moment they can afford a site and build their house, their situation changes grdually in three aspects: 1) habitat: the family acquires its piece of land, build their house in a period of time according to their possibilities and find definite solution to their problem. 2) Social: from the moment they acquire their own site they no longer feel left aside by the society. 3) Personal: their self-esteem is reinforced since they feel part of the society again. 4) Groupal: from the moment they get into contact with others family groups undergoing similar conditions and in a definite period of time (moving period) they find more opportunities to become acquainted and establish corporation bonds ( the notion of NEIGHBOURHOOD appears with all the meaninings this word implies).

The land were the project was developed was a field surrounded on three sides by urban areas. With the foundation of Don Bosco the urban area was completed, the roads are lengthened and the services,( electricity, telephone lines, means of transpotation, garbage colletion) are improved. This was greately appeciated by the people living in the adjoining neighbourhoods, whose prevention about the installing of a new population was notorious.

We only mention a few of improvements because it lacks a more adjusted evaluation of the project.
a) diffusion: the diffusion was less massive and more personalised, making use of the potential population in the adjoining neighbourhoods.
b) selection: the owners were choosen by a strict system of scores carried out by the Social Area.
c) adjudication: changes concerning the owners were allowed by due to reasons worthy of consideration .The new owner had to pay the sums of money paid by the previous one.
d) sale contracts: restricting clauses:
These clause were one of the innovations with regard to previous plans. There were two situations that could hinder the realisation of the project:
1) delays in more than 3 consecutive payments were no admitted.
2) a moving term equal to every owner was established - 6 months from the possesion of the site.
The breach of any of these conditions resulted in the annulement of the Contract.


173 new sites and services
2.500 m of drinking water supply system
3.000 m of new streets
2.000 m of aerial electricity supply system
173 new houses with an investment of about us 600.000.
173 new taxpayers, electricity legal users, etc.


The relevance of the project is very clear in the Argentine context where there are a deficit of more than 3,5 million of adecuate dwellings. Another important data is the amount of land that is not being used near Buenos Aires and other big cities. The solution of sites and services has been proved in many countries, often successfully, but in Argentina has not been put in practice, except in a small scale in some provincial plans. This project proves various items:
1) regarding social politics: it demonstrate that the access to urbanized land with low price can be facilitated with the elimination of obstacles like the speculation of the real state business, the cost of the middleman, the control of the investments, the purchase of improved land, etc. The result obtained through calculus show that a site with basic infrastructure as the ones of this project cost a 40 % of the price of a site inthe real state business.
2) regarding legislation: we think that the Estate, taking into consideration of this type of projects should for a Bank of Lands in order to avoid the speculation and offer low price land to the part of population with low incomes. In this way with only one investment the State would obtain much more habitational solutions that the ones it could with the politics in force. The NGO's should participate in the issue of rules and laws that have to do with the development of these solutions, taking account that they are the ones that have performed these experiences successfully and with lower costs.


    Junta Vecinal Barrio Don Bosco
    Beltran e Ituzaingo
    Buenos Aires


    APAC, Asociacion Para Apoyo a Comunidades
    Terrero 1413
    San Isidro
    Buenos Aires


    Fundacion para la vivienda San Juan Bosco
    Zapiola, Ezequiel
    Terrero 1413
    San Isidro
    Buenos Aires
    (54-1)7474895 (tel-fax)

    Anette Fitte
    Terrero 1413
    San Isidro
    Buenos Aires

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