News Article

Mexico’s Social Housing Opportunities Across Administrations

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 11:39

The current administration comes to a close, President Enrique Peña Nieto and his team have left a strong legacy in housing development, Jorge Wolpert, Director General of the National Housing Commission (CONAVI) told the exclusive audience at the Marquis Reforma hotel in Mexico City on Wednesday.

Wolpert went on to highlight the creation of SEDATU in 2013 as one of the milestones that allowed more orderly and efficient growth for cities. “Through the creation of SEDATU, President Peña Nieto designed a territorial policy for housing development,” he said. “The zoning regulation was designed with robust bases, with the support of INEGI in providing data on population and trends.”

Today, 100 percent of new housing in the country is being built inside particular boundaries that are close to vital services such as transport, connectivity and employment, Wolpert said. But he warned that, after achieving this milestone, it should not be left to the wayside. “This policy should be dynamic and constantly updated.”

Wolpert pointed out that this kind of policy is ideal for those medium-sized cities that in the last 30 years, have expanded by over eight times in terms of their population. “We made mistakes in the past in allowing cities to expand in a disorderly way past their own boundaries,” he explained. “Now that we have identified this mistake and learned from it, the conditions can be provided to allow greater densification and optimize the use of urban space.”

While highlighting the achievements of the previous administration, Wolpert stressed that there are two main areas of opportunity for the next government to address. First, 800,000 to 1 million houses are built every year, but 400,000 of those built informally, meaning without a mortgage or a loan. Wolpert said the biggest challenge for Mexico’s next president is to affiliate those informal workers to government agencies, such as Infonavit. He said that the informal economy not only includes domestic staff, construction workers or those that own street stalls. “There are 2 million Mexicans with a fixed income that work for the government, as doctors, nurses and in other professions, but they do not have banking facilities,” he explained. “This is a huge opportunity for the social housing mortgage sector.”

According to Wolpert, the second big challenge is to attract commercial banking to the social housing sector. He attributes the lack of commercial banking over the last six years largely to the huge capacity of Infonavit and to the lingering fear that was generated by the 2008 mortgage crisis.

Although Infonavit is the largest mortgage credit agency in Latin America and one of the largest in the world, Wolpert said it is indispensable to continue having other agencies working collaboratively in social housing. This includes commercial banking agencies. “It is time to welcome commercial banking back into the residential housing market,” he concluded.