Cuba began granting licenses to people to build homes “with their own effort”, an initiative approved last year by President Raúl Castro. The granting of the permits was finally approved by the National Housing Institute for people who are the owners of land, homes or other areas included in the new resolution.
Before the new regulation, building permits had been awarded only in “selected” cases by the relevant local authorities, while now all interested parties that assemble the legal prerequisites may request a construction license. The permit includes the case of houses in bad condition and the possibility of adding to existing homes, while the government will institute mechanisms for the sale of construction materials, according to state run Radio Rebelde.
Under the system a given area of square meters corresponding to what is considered a basic family “will be designated during the application process and, after obtaining the permit, people may begin work”, a source with the Housing Institute said.
Construction work in Cuba is generally done by construction brigades and by the citizens themselves, who nevertheless have to confront and surmount numerous bureaucratic obstacles before they can get down to work. And even when those obstacles are overcome there is still a serious lack of building materials.
A year ago Raúl Castro said that Cuba’s industrial base must be developed so that hundreds of thousands of houses could be built, and decided not to prohibit people from building or adding to homes by their “individual effort”. Lack of housing is one of the most serious problems in Cuba with a current deficit of 600,000 houses in a country of 11.2 million residents. The situation has deteriorated in part, due to the damage caused by three hurricanes that slammed the island in 2008.
In recent years, state construction plans have not been able to be met although the number of new homes set as a target has been reduced from 150,000 to 50,000.