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4 million abandoned houses are a challenge for new government

Organized crime, migrants who moved on cited for the huge number of empty homes

The federal government will implement a program aimed at recovering as many as 4 million abandoned houses, most of which are located in the north of the country.

Agrarian Development and Urban Planning Secretary Román Meyer Falcón told the newspaper El Universal that the secretariat he heads will soon present a national “recovery program” to President López Obrador and Infonavit, the National Workers’ Housing Fund.

“[The homes] will have to be examined project by project. There will be some that we can rebuild, intervene in, offer better land use permits for, [convert into] public spaces . . .” he said.

“Our obligation is to lay the groundwork so that this housing policy doesn’t happen again. We can’t allow there to be this great volume of millions of abandoned houses,” Meyer added.

The secretary said the states with the highest numbers of abandoned homes are all in the north of the country, specifically Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Baja California and Chihuahua.

He explained that the presence of organized crime was one factor that led families to abandon their homes in the north but added that there are a high number of migrants from southern states, such as Oaxaca, who travel to the border states to work in maquiladoras, or factories, before moving on.

“. . . There is a constant turnover of people,” Meyer said.

“[There are] approximately 4 million homes that are abandoned or in disuse at a national level, 4 or 5 million properties that we have to think about; in what way are we going to intervene and what will be Infonavit’s policy,” he said.

Turning to other topics, Meyer said that when he took over the reins of the secretariat, called Sedatu for short, the department wasn’t in the “best condition.”

“We were met with a secretariat that didn’t have internet, didn’t have servers, didn’t have telephones . . .” he said, adding that there was a possibility that Sedatu would relocate to Pachuca, Hidalgo, in 2020.

The secretary previously responsible for the department was Rosario Robles, who has been accused of corruption, but Meyer ruled out any possibility that Sedatu would investigate her.

“We’re not the relevant authority to carry out the investigation,” he said.

With regard to earthquake reconstruction, Meyer said that Sedatu is currently carrying out a census to determine where additional funding needs to be deployed and to follow up on how money already allocated has been used.

“We’re going to do an analysis home by home, with a much more efficient mechanism . . . In the previous administration, there wasn’t a follow-up on the delivery of resources . . . We believe that the obligation [of the government] is not just to deliver the resources but to make sure that each family made good use of them,” he said.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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