Home Repairs and Expansions Could Solve 88% of Mexico’s Housing Deficit

Everyone has the right to adequate housing. But not everyone faces the same obstacles on their path to secure it.

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Everyone has the right to adequate housing.

But not everyone faces the same obstacles on their path to secure it. That’s why we use diverse interventions to tackle the housing crisis across Latin America. In Mexico, there’s a housing deficit of 8.5 million. Not all of these families need a new home.

About 7.4 million families in Mexico can secure adequate housing by improving the shelter they currently live in. That means 88% of the housing deficit could be solved through home repairs and expansions.

A common misconception is that when a family lacks adequate housing, they lack all forms of shelter. But the housing crisis isn’t that simple.

At New Story, we adopt the United Nations’ definition of adequate housing, which includes seven requirements:

  1. Legal security of tenure
  2. Availability of services, materials, facilities, and infrastructure
  3. Affordability
  4. Habitability
  5. Accessibility
  6. Location
  7. Cultural adequacy

To lack any of these seven elements means to lack adequate housing.

Many low-income families live in inadequate housing because they lack access to the resources and information to manage the process of building incrementally, repairing, and/or expanding their homes. Without access to the resources and information, families turn to their last resort: to build their own shelter without construction expert assistance and using their savings, as they become available.

Without access to construction expert assistance and affordable financing, the process of self-building and doing the home expansions and renovations on their own can be 50% more expensive, waste 30% of materials, and take up to three generations to complete.

Low-income families living in inadequate, self-built homes can improve their housing conditions and expand their homes, but they don’t have access to adequate and affordable financing. They also lack the technical knowledge to ensure safety and quality.

Improvement and expansion of existing homes can be the most impactful strategy to decrease the qualitative housing deficit and put families on the path to adequate housing, but it requires overcoming some barriers:

  • The lack of adequate and affordable loans to cover housing improvement expenses
  • The lack of construction assistance services at scale
  • The lack of information for families, so they can make decisions as the owners of the process
  • The lack of trust by families on the use of alternative materials, construction technologies, and best practices

From our experience and knowledge of low-income families in Mexico, we’re hopeful about the momentum from national housing agencies to support owner-led housing strategies.

The qualitative housing deficit can be reduced, and result in improved housing quality by:

  • Providing expert advice in product design, as well as access to affordable capital to financial service providers. So they can develop, pilot, improve, and expand adequate financial products responsive to the affordability levels and capacities of low-income families.
  • Providing business development expertise to professionals delivering technical assistance in construction to improve and sustainably scale their business models. Also, supporting the work of connecting their services to financial products. The goal is to ensure construction quality and safety.

Rather than viewing families as beneficiaries, we view them as owners of the process to self produce their homes.

Families deserve to make personal decisions about their housing. And what we’ve learned from them is they don’t always need or want a new home.

Unlocking the market for families to have access to affordable financing, construction technical advice, and information for home repairs and expansions allows families to advance on their path to adequate housing.

The global housing crisis is too urgent to rely only on the one traditional solution of building homes. That’s why we’re committed to working with the market to develop solutions that are sustainable, scalable, and, most importantly, meet the needs and desires of families.