Mexico's $100 Billion Housing Disaster
November 27, 2017, 07:00 AM
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I often complain about the lack of coverage of Mexico in the American press, but now that the Los Angeles Times is running a massive five-part series on the (often literal) falling apart of the housing bubble in Mexico, I gotta admit: Mexican news is pretty depressing.

So when Vicente Fox was elected Presidente in 2000, he did pretty much the same thing George W. Bush did: encourage a huge housing bubble. And much of the same results happened.

Mexico being Mexico, however, many of the new little houses built by the public-private partnership are already falling down. Here’s a great picture of a mom retrieving her sons’ basketball from the raw sewage pit that has opened up in the middle of the street in front of her new house:

Mexico promised affordable housing for all. Instead it created many rapidly decaying slums

A failed vision

By RICHARD MAROSI | Veracruz, Mexico

NOV. 26, 2017

Sixteen years ago, Mexico embarked on a monumental campaign to elevate living standards for its working-class masses.

The government teamed with private developers to launch the largest residential construction boom in Latin American history. Global investors — the World Bank, big foundations, Wall Street firms — poured billions of dollars into the effort.

Vast housing tracts sprang up across cow pastures, farms and old haciendas. From 2001 to 2012, an estimated 20 million people — one-sixth of Mexico’s population — left cities, shantytowns and rural ranchos for the promise of a better life.

It was a Levittown moment for Mexico — a test of the increasingly prosperous nation’s first-world ambitions. But Mexico fell disastrously short of creating that orderly suburbia.

The program has devolved into a slow-motion social and financial catastrophe, inflicting daily hardships and hazards on millions in troubled developments across the country, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found. …

Streets sink, sidewalks crumble, and broken-down water treatment plants rust.

The program cost more than $100 billion, and some investors and construction executives reaped enormous profits, hailing themselves as “nation builders” as they joined the ranks of Mexico’s richest citizens.

Meanwhile, the factory workers, small-business owners, retirees and civil servants who bought the homes got stuck with complex loans featuring mortgage payments that rose even as their neighborhoods deteriorated into slums.

The Times visited 50 of the affordable-housing developments from Tijuana to the Gulf of Mexico.

Looking at the pictures, it appears that few of the new homes constructed were conventional apartment buildings. You might think that poor Mexicans would live in apartment buildings, which are cheaper than homes with your own land. But according to Fox’s foreign secretary Jorge Castaneda’s book Manana Forever, only 3% of the new residential construction built in Mexico in 2004-2008 were apartments. The chief goal of many Mexicans appears to be to get away from other Mexicans.

There is a widespread assumption that importing more Mexicans is the path to a high-density environmentally-friendly America, but Mexicans love sprawl.

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