On August 27, 2020, the first virtual session of a Housing Laboratory on Migration and Cities in Guatemala (LAV by its Spanish initials) was held. As Guatemala’s National Housing Council (CONAVI) works to update Guatemala’s National Policy on Housing and Human Settlements with strategies to increase access to decent, sustainable housing, this event contributed to discussions regarding the potential that remittances offer for financing the provision of decent housing and broader urban development.
Remittances are a potentially important source for financing housing within a broader framework that includes public subsidies, pathways that facilitate access to credit, and incentives for private developers and social organizations.
Data generated to design and plan approaches linking migration, remittances, and housing should be sufficiently disaggregated so that strategies can respond to local contexts.
Financial inclusion among migrants and remittance recipient families is critical, as are strategies that support their incorporation into formal economic and financial systems. Banks and cooperatives should provide agile, innovative tools and technology that accelerate these processes.
It is imperative to address the relationship between remittances and housing within the framework of broader urban development. Informality in housing construction jeopardizes the possibility of generating a virtuous circle, whereby the savings that families build from the remittances they receive then flow into housing finance. Houses built through irregular means (especially those located in hazard-prone areas) cannot represent an asset worth formal investment.
Urban planning is key alongside planning for land use. Municipalities have a central role in processes that determine where housing will be built. In order to lead these processes effectively, municipalities must strengthen their institutional capacity and foster cooperation among different stakeholders, including at the inter-municipal level.
Since achieving independence in 1804 to become the world’s first free black state, Haiti has been beset by turbulent, often violent, politics and a gradual but seemingly unstoppable slide from austerity to poverty to misery.