Latin American Governments Fail to Tackle Booming Urban Slums: Report

Anastasia Moloney, Yahoo! News, August 17, 2015

Latin America’s booming urban slums look set to continue their rapid expansion as government housing policies fail to tackle an explosion in informal housing, legal experts said on Monday.

Some 113 million people across the continent–or nearly one in five people–live in sprawling slums which are fueling inequality and social exclusion, they said in a report.

“State policies on housing–even those enshrined in the region’s constitutions–have not been able to respond to the rise of urban populations . . . ,” the study said.

Mass migration from rural to urban areas from the 1950s onwards means 80 percent of Latin America’s population of around 600 million now live in cities–a higher number than in any other region in the world.

The report examines housing legislation and policy in 11 countries, including Latin America’s largest economies–Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Argentina.

It found most countries had laws and constitutions that recognized the right to adequate housing, but huge gaps remained in ensuring poor families got access to homes, housing credit and secure land tenure rights.

Across Latin America, poor neighborhoods crammed with shacks built using bricks, scrap metal and wood, and often perched precariously on hillsides, are a common feature of the urban landscape.

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The global challenge to provide adequate housing is highlighted in the United Nations new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will replace the Millennium Development Goals this year.

One of the goals is to “upgrade slums” and ensure everyone has access to adequate, safe and affordable housing with basic services, such as water.

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