Social housing projects in Baja California abandoned for financial reasons and the lack of amenities such as schools and hospitals have become breeding grounds for disease and petty crime.
About 100,000 homes are believed to have been abandoned across the state and are now being occupied by wild animals, gangs and drug users.
The squalor produced by the animals has in turn caused a rise in illnesses such as rickets as a result of infections being passed on to people by ticks. This is thought to have caused 20 deaths in the past year alone.
To make matters worse, in Tijuana and Mexicali the abandoned apartment blocks are also being used as “shooting galleries” by drug addicts.
Alejandro Arregui, Baja California representative of the national mortgage fund Infonavit, said the problem had been partly caused by purchasers being in arrears on payments on 13,000 apartments, of which at least 5,000 had been abandoned as a result.
“The problem of abandoned housing stems from poor planning whereby no development centers were created,” said Lauro Arestegui of the federal Secretariat of Agrarian and Urban Development, adding that residents’ problems with making payments were thought to be primarily caused by poor access to basic services such as schools and hospitals and work places.
“We are talking about 10,000 [homes] at least, although the mayor of Tijuana puts it at half that number,” he said.
The problem has persisted unchecked for several years despite legal efforts by local authorities to reclaim the apartment blocks.
They have become perceived as gang strongholds and therefore lawless no-go areas. Local authorities have identified half a dozen such “hotspots” in Tijuana.
In one of them, Villas del Campo, half of the 35,000 homes are estimated to have been abandoned.
Source: Milenio (sp)