Cities are the main engine of economic and social development. The social interaction in cities drives innovation and creativity, giving rise to cutting-edge technological and cultural production systems.
The concentration of population, however, generates high demand for services. When the expansion of the supply of services is inadequate, significant deficits emerge in the coverage and quality of infrastructure and services, including housing. These problems are compounded by weak urban governance. In Latin America and the Caribbean 150 million people under the poverty line live in its cities.
The IDB is committed to urban development and expanding access to housing in the region. Its fluid dialogue with national and municipal authorities, its track record of good practices and innovation, and its high multisector technical capacity, have afforded it privileged access to the region.
Areas of action
- Half of households lack indoor toilets connected to the sanitary sewage
- Two third of households do not have internet access
- One fifth of households live without waste collection services
- One third of households live in informal neighborhoods with deficient basic services or in areas of high disaster risk
- Mobility issues affect the poorest households, who tend to live in the least accessible areas
Lines of action
- Improving informal neighborhoods, especially in areas where poor households are concentrated in large and medium-sized cities; and
- Expanding the coverage, resilience, and quality of urban infrastructure and services in poor formal neighborhoods
- Supporting programs to upgrade informal neighborhoods, with urban plans that promote density, landholding regularization programs, investments in infrastructure and social services, and situational prevention of violence;
- Promoting comprehensive investments to expand basic and community services, mass public transportation, parks, and public spaces in poor formal neighborhoods. These activities will foster private-sector contributions to reducing infrastructure and service gaps, through regulatory incentives and PPPs.
- Since 2000, the percentage of households with access to housing has increased. However, the number of households with housing deficit problems has increased in absolute numbers.
- 40 million households are subject to a qualitative deficit, suffering from overcrowding, and lack of basic services or secure tenure of their homes.
- 13 million households are subject to a quantitative deficit, either because they live in a makeshift household or because they share it with another household.
- One third of the deficit households belong to the poorest quintile
- The informality of home tenure is greater among households headed by women
- Nearly half of the housing deficit is related to high cost of homes and lack of access to finances
- The mortgage market is underdeveloped, associated to a high degree of economic informality
Lines of action
The lines include promoting and expanding:
- Access to public and private financing for housing services for the poorest populations
- Thehousing services offering.
- Targeting the housing service needs of the two poorest quintiles, with a supply that includes new, improved, and progressive housing
- Supporting the supply of rental housing, making the incentives involved in this type of housing equivalent to those of owned housing; balancing the rights and obligations of owners, and offering guarantees for private investment in rental housing;
- Promoting housing programs adapted to local bioclimatic conditions that increase the density of already urbanized areas and help reduce the urban carbon footprint. These activities will address the characteristics and needs of the beneficiary population, and will strengthen the public and private institutions involved in the delivery of housing services
- Measurements of air, water and urban soil pollution show a serious degradation of the urban habitat, compounded by visual contamination and lack of maintenance of public spaces
- Urban heritage is also neglected. Less than half of the region´s historical heritage sites declared by the UNESCO have mechanisms to preserve their value
- Cities are exposed to the risk of serious disasters. Caribbean cities are especially vulnerable to rising sea levels and hurricanes.
- Insecurity and crime are a serious threat to the urban habitat. Nine of the ten cities with the highest homicide rate are in LAC.
- Cities are becoming less dense in LAC. The area occupied by cities is expanding faster than its urban population. This generates an unsustainable pattern of land occupation.
Lines of action
- Revitalizing degraded areas
- Preserving the historical heritage of the cities
- Reducing disaster risk, enhancing the capacity of cities to adapt to climate change, and protecting the most vulnerable residents from its adverse impacts
- Rehabilitating and recovering underused public spaces and urban areas of historical heritage, while maintaining sociocultural diversity, and adopting participatory, sustainable management structures;
- Promoting environmental conservation, the management of urban natural resources, and adaptation to climate change, while protecting the most vulnerable residents. Incentives will be sought for private sector participation in the recovery of urban areas.
Despite decentralization, subnational governments have failed to significantly increase their financial and institutional capacities
Citizen participation in urban management remains weak.
The ability to generate internal resources remains very limited, which, together with the fact that they are generally not credit recipients, plunges cities into a vicious circle of disinvestment and lack of urban services. Revenue collected from the real property tax remains low, at less than 0.5% of GDP.
Lines of action
- Strengthening city governments and local institutions that have urban planning and citizen service responsibilities
- Improving the quality and efficiency of entities providing urban public services
- Supporting integrated urban planning, including the creation of master plans for environmental risk management;
- Strengthening municipal finances through medium-term fiscal planning, the capture of increases in property values, and the strengthening the capacities of local governments to prepare and evaluate local economic development projects;
- Increasing citizen participation and improving the transparency of local public expenditure planning, programming, and execution processes;
- Promoting efficient, progressive models for the management, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure, equipment, and urban services