Mexico’s ‘un cuarto más’ program aims to help 2 million people

The “un cuarto más” scheme (“one more room”), which aims to help more than two million people, was announced at a press conference on 12 October by Rosario Robles Berlango, the minister for urban development (pictured, centre).

She claimed the initiative would cut domestic violence, and have an economic impact in Mexico worth 20 billion pesos, or $1.2bn.

“It has been proven that overcrowding generates health problems and domestic violence, where most of the victims are girls and women,” she told reporters, adding that the problem was worse on the fringes of large urban areas, where migration leads people into “belts of misery”.

She said the programme could create as many as 2.5 million jobs.

The extra space will be paid for by loans from the state-run National Housing Fund for Workers (Infonavit), commercial banks and a new infrastructure fund administered by her ministry.

The National Housing Commission and a real estate investment trust known as the National Housing Trust Fund may also help finance the plan.

There may also be direct subsidies for people who are not able to access Infonavit loans.

There will also be subsidies for the construction firms who build the extra rooms.

Priority will be given to homes with only one bedroom now, or where there is a need to protect women from the consequences of overcrowding.

Alejandro Murat (pictured second from right), the director of Infonavit, said 2.5 million homes in the country, or 7.8% of the total, had more than 2.5 persons per bedroom.

He said that between 2005 and 2012, about 45,000 homes a year were built with a single bedroom. New housing rules gradually require all new homes financed by Infonavit to be built with at least two.

Infonavit, which is funded through employer contributions and loan repayments by homeowners, is Mexico’s biggest mortgage lender with a portfolio of about $52bn.

Photograph: Housing minister Rosario Robles Berlango, centre, announcing the “un cuarto más” plan on 12 October 2015 (Government of Mexico)

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