Guanacaste Families Wait up to Ten Years for Home

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Having your own home is a dream for many, above all in a country like Costa Rica, where for every 100 homes, one is a shack.

The Voice of Guanacaste collected information regarding ten free housing projects that will be built in the cantons of Nicoya, Santa Cruz and Hojancha. There is evidence that there are families who wait from two to ten years to have their home.

According to the data, Nicoya has more housing options than Santa Cruz, as the latter only has four free housing initiatives that would include 324 houses. That is due to the fact that, the quantity of homes per project primarily follows the Ministry of Housing policies, which establish that the number of homes for a project should not exceed the demand or the district’s need for homes. That number is quantified by the 2011 Census. In addition, current policies establish that those who hope to have a home within a project should be people who reside in that district.

According to the 2011 Census, the canton of Nicoya had 1.1% of homes classified as a shack, whereas in Santa Cruz the rate is only 0.5%.

According to The Voice’s analysis, the Cacao project in Santa Cruz has taken the longest to be finalized; the initiative has been under review for ten years. However, it has now reached the development phase.

“That project has had an enormous cost because there was a lot of opposition. About two times we invaded the municipality because they didn’t want to give us the permit, then the Cacao Development Association didn’t support the project – better yet they filed two appeals against us with the constitutional court because they said that the land was an indigenous cemetery, and they stopped the project for four months. But thankfully, at this time the project is being finalized,” said Eduardo Morales, the project’s developer.

The Cacao Project will provide housing for 169 families for the Santa Cruz canton and will cost more than ¢3,500 million ($6,571,000). Homes would be handed over to families in December of 2015.

Old Delays

For the Minister of Housing and Human Settlements, Rosendo Pujol, during previous administrations errors had been committed that produced years of delays for Guanacaste. However, it is normal for a housing project to be delayed between 1.5 and three years, due to the complexity of the permits that must be requested.

“In a certain way, what we are approving and building doesn’t always fulfill what we would like to do, but little by little we have made changes, such as putting projects within or close to cities, and the demand for housing in those places, calculated by data provided by IMAS and development bridges, is significant,” commented the minister.

Pujol indicated that in the case of the Florida Verde and Nosara projects in Nicoya, they were not processed correctly, as they allowed for plats to gain right-of-way status, which does not guarantee the maintenance of streets because, if the plats are not public, it’s not a municipal responsibility. On the other hand, their narrow dimensions do not allow for easy access for assistance vehicles in the case of emergency.

According to Mario Fonseca, developer of the company EVICEN S.A. in Nicoya, the processes that delay housing projects most are water permits and those from SETENA,as well as studies for the selection of beneficiaries. In addition, Fonseca believes that two years is a long time to process a project.