Colombia’s proposed housing plan would move poor into upper class areas

Global Business

In Colombia, Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro made headlines again with a controversial new project. Petro wanted to construct housing projects for lower income families in the city’s upper class neighborhoods. CCTV America’s Michelle Begue reported from Bogota.

Colombia’s proposed housing plan would move poor into upper class areas

Colombia’s proposed housing plan would move poor into upper class areas

In Colombia, Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro made headlines again with a controversial new project. Petro wanted to construct housing projects for lower income families in the city's upper class neighborhoods. CCTV America's Michelle Begue reported from Bogota.

In Bogota, the $15 million welfare housing plan has become a centerpiece in a class conflict it was supposed to reduce. Bogota’s left-wing mayor, Gustavo Petro, wanted to conduct an ambitious social experiment in one of the city’s poshest neighborhoods.

If all goes as planned, the city’s parking lot in the upper-class neighborhood of El Retiro would become one of the seven sites for the proposed housing project. According to city officials, victims of Colombia’s armed conflict would be able to live in one of the city’s best locations with the most expensive mall in Bogota just across the street.

The head of the city housing agency, Nicolas Corso, said the city’s richest people were far more likely to accept a black woman as a nanny, but not as a neighbor.

“They accept her if she is in a park dressed as a nanny, taking care of someone else’s child, but if that same woman is dressed in her jeans and is with her children, then she is rejected. That is what we want to fight,” Corso said.

But the mayor’s plan has been criticized as unrealistic. Even Colombia’s Vice President German Vargas Lleras joined the criticism, calling the move a “provocation.” Others asked about where would the new tenants shop or take their children to school.

Corso said housing was just one part of a plan that involves markets, education and public spaces. “Part of the first and second floors will be for these day-care centers. Because this project is primarily focused for mothers, the head-of-household who are the most vulnerable of the victims,” he said.

While some locals have shunned the project, the National Director of U.N. Habitat applauded it, saying it promotes sustainable urban development.

It may take years or even decades for Colombians to reduce the country’s class divisions, but the project is moving forward quickly, with construction set to begin in 2015.


Explore income inequality in Latin America

Click on the play button below to watch how income inequality has changed over time in Latin American countries. You can also change how this information is visualized by clicking on the charts in the upper left — we think the best presentation are the columns — and you can identify individual countries by clicking their names on the far right.

(We added the U.S. and China for additional comparison points. Data is not available for all countries for all years.)

We used Gini coefficient data from the World Bank to explore income inequality. Here, a lower score means a country has more equality — income is more evenly distributed among the population. And a higher score means there is less distribution: fewer people hold more of the wealth.

While scores of 0 and 100 don’t actually exist, a helpful way to think about Gini is a score of 0 means all the country’s wealth is evenly distributed among the entire population. And a score of 100 would mean that one very rich person had all the country’s wealth, while everyone else had nothing.


Miloon Kothari from MIT talked about welfare housing plan policies

For more on this, CCTV America talked with Miloon Kothari, urban studies and planning professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Miloon Kothari from MIT talked about welfare housing plan policies

Miloon Kothari from MIT talked about welfare housing plan policies

For more on this, CCTV America talked with Miloon Kothari, urban studies and planning professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).