By Sara Acosta |
San Salvador (EFE).- With a minimum salary of 365.00 dollars a month it is almost impossible or impossible for an average citizen of El Salvador to access a home of more than 90,000 dollars.
House prices in this Central American country create a tremendous inequality gap and have forced many people to live in places that do not meet certain minimum standards that allow them to offer an adequate quality of life.
The minimum wage in commerce, service and industry is currently 365.00 dollars, in the maquila sector 359.16 dollars and in the agricultural area it ranges between 243.00 dollars and 272.00 dollars.
Newspaper ads list houses for sale for $26,000 and $40,000 in popular areas, and for more than $90,000 in areas considered “safe.” Some ads suggest prices of $200,000 or $700,000, which is impossible for a minimum wage worker to afford.
The rents of the houses also report a high price, since in the “safe” or central areas they are quoted between 1,250 dollars and 2,500 dollars, so that a worker, for example, with a monthly salary of 2,500 dollars would also have difficulty access, since the rental price is added to the charges for basic services (water and energy) and administration and surveillance.
An apartment of about 34 square meters in a lower-middle-class area cost around 10 years ago $20,000 and currently the price is between $35,000 and $45,000.
The Social Fund for Housing is the government entity in charge of providing financing to purchase a home, however, the funds granted depend on the salary of the person requesting it.
Access to “commodified” housing
William Murcia, a member of the Foundation for Studies for the Application of Law (Fespad) and the National Platform for Habitat, which brings together at least 20 social organizations, told EFE that “historically it has been shown that there are sectors excluded for accessing a house” in the country.
“Although it is true that the Constitution declares the construction of housing in the country to be of social interest, we see that there has not been a prioritization in relation to promoting affordable and social interest housing for families in the country,” he said.
He assured that “in our country, access to housing is associated with the economic conditions that the family may have, in this sense, access to housing has been commodified and the approach to accessing housing is not seen under the rights-based approach.” .
He said that, according to the 2021 Household and Multiple Purpose Survey, around 50% of families do not own their homes and around 40% of households live in overcrowding.
“A housing solution can be anything and in our country a housing solution can be made up of a mixed wall and three sheet walls,” he said.
He indicated that, “although it is true, there are areas or instances of the State that deal with the issue of housing in the country, we identified that there is a dispersion in them.”
He assured that in the country “it is not clearly identified what is the regulation in relation to the purchase and sale of housing and access to housing has been commercialized,” he stressed.
Murcia pointed out that since there are no possibilities of a house, “irregular human settlements are established due to the need to solve a roof, a shelter, a fairly housing solution with many deficiencies.”
These irregular human settlements may be on land owned by the State or private, and in some cases the families established there are evicted after many years.
Recovered housing option
El Salvador has been under an emergency regime since March of last year and the Government attributes the reduction in homicides in the country to this measure. In this context, the Executive has highlighted the recovery of homes in popular and extensive residential areas controlled by gangs.
“People claim that there are no social interest homes and they cannot go to the most dangerous areas (…) that is why we are convinced that public safety is a determining factor and is the spearhead for any development and growth” , said the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Michelle Sol, in a telephone conversation with EFE.
The official explained that some 6,000 homes have been “recovered” throughout the territory, many of them were “under the domain of gang members.”
These houses, which are around 10,000 dollars, are now for sale with zero premium and at a rate of 3% interest. The Ministry of Housing and Development grants between 9,000 and 20,000 dollars to someone interested in such homes.