Monday, January 15, 2007

A record year for housing 

As has been noted before, and pounced on by President Chavez's opponents, Venezuela has had great difficulty in meeting its goals in the construction of low income housing. In fact, it often didn't construct as many housing units as had been built by previous administrations. Well 2006 put an end to that. A record number of housing units were built by the government - significantly more were built in 2006 than have been built in any previous year by the government and more than was built by previous governments in any given year, as this chart shows:

The goal, of course, was to have built 200,000 low income housing units. And sure they missed that. But that is more a case of setting lofty goals and coming up a little short than anything else. If they had built 120,000 they would have doubled the number built in any single year by the previous administrations. As it is, even coming up short, they still built more, 77,000, than the previous governments every built, 66,000.

For 2007 the target is 150,000. Almost certainly this won't be met either. But if they build 100,000, or even 90,000 it will be a significant accomplishment.

The eight years before Chavez came to power saw 319,000 housing units built. During Chavez's tenture 215,000 have been built. So he is still behind, but rapidly catching up. And given that what he has built has always vastly surpassed what the opposition built in terms of quality it is clear housing can no longer be viewed a failure of this government, and soon it will probably be a significant success. It also needs to be kept in mind that the government has many other parts to its housing program such as giving grants to home buyers to purchase homes in the private market and keeping morgage rates low. In part for these reasons the private housing market in Venezuela also had a banner year.

That will leave the opposition with not much more than crime to bitch and moan about. If that gets taken care of soon they will literally have nothing left to complain about. Well, they are petty people, so I'm sure they will think of something.


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