A home built with the support of Échale a Tu Casa. A home built with the support of Échale a Tu Casa.

Homes are being built for 150,000 pesos

'Social enterprise' has built 30,000 houses for low-income families

A two-bedroom house for just 150,000 pesos, or US $8,000? A Mexican firm whose goal is to provide low-income families with a basic dwelling — two bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and living room — has proved it can be done by building 30,000 so far.

Founded in 2007, Échale a Tu Casa (which roughly translates as “Put yourself in your own home”)  is a Mexican firm that is seeking to address, in a sustainable manner, a requirement of the Mexican constitution, that “every family has the right to enjoy decent and dignified housing.”

According to the most recent data available from Coneval, the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy, nearly 16 million people in Mexico live in substandard housing due to poverty, unemployment and poor construction techniques.

That represents a big market for Échale a Tu Casa, although its goal is not so much selling homes as providing them. The organization describes itself on its website as a social enterprise that offers ecological and “worthy housing solutions for the underserved population.”

“We work in rural and semi-urban communities with a three-way approach,” says the company’s promotion director: “community organization, access to funding options and the use of appropriate technology.”

Alejandra de Rosenzweig told the newspaper Milenio that social inclusion is the main reason for the project’s success.

For Échale a Tu Casa to become involved with a community at least 30 families have to show an interest in the project. All must live within a five-kilometer radius and be willing to contribute to and work on the construction of the houses.

The financing comes from three sources: 10% from contributions by the families, a federal subsidy that can total as much as 64,000 pesos and credit provided by Échale a Tu Casa, with terms adapted to each family’s ability to pay.

The loans are for five years and the monthly payments must not exceed 30% of the family’s total income.

The average cost of a home is of 150,000 pesos, but the company has built homes for as low as 110,000 pesos and up to 215,000.

In the last decade Échale a Tu Casa has completed 180,000 projects: 30,000 new homes and 150,000 home improvements. It expects to close 2016 with 3,000 additional homes.

Échale is able to keep its costs at an affordable level by using an often disregarded raw material: earth. All the homes are built with adobe, which is made up of non-arable earth mixed with cement and quicklime.

The adobe, compressed-earth blocks are manufactured on-site by the communities themselves using an Adopress, a simple machine that can produce 1,000 blocks in a shift.

Having become a successful project at the national level, Échale expects to expand to other Latin American countries and the Indian subcontinent.

The firm was created by Francesco Piazzesi who comes from a family of Italian immigrants who created ITAL Mexicana, a manufacturer of construction machinery.

Source: Milenio (sp), Forbes México (sp)

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