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“A Patrimony for the Children”: Low-Income Homeownership and Housing (Im)Mobility in Latin American Cities

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Data are presented from a 2007 restudy of some 300 low-income self-builder owner households across eight settlements in Bogotá and Mexico City originally interviewed in the early and late 1970s, published in the mid-1980s (Gilbert and Ward 1985). Framed within a longitudinal perspective, the article analyzes the level of turnover of household owners living in irregular settlements over a period of thirty years; the current (2007) housing arrangements of households in dwellings and on plots; and the expectancies of ownership and inheritance of (now) adult children and grandchildren. The findings from the resurvey show minimal land-use changes and that more than 80 percent of the original families remain living on the lot. Densities have increased significantly, as has the average number of households sharing the lot. In Mexico City, sharing a lot is almost exclusively done with close kin (adult children), whereas in Bogotá it is both kin as well as renters. Self-estimated property values and tax office assessments show that house values in these consolidated settlements are often so high as to make it very difficult to sell, thereby reducing residential mobility. Also, the use value, and the inheritance expectations for second- and third-generation households living on the lots, gives little incentive (or option) to sell up and exit the settlement. Some of the social, judicial (tenure and inheritance), and housing policy implications and challenges are discussed.
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Keywords: América Latina; Latin America; barriadas interiores; barrio de auto-construcción consolidado; consolidated self-help housing; estudios longitudinales; innerburbs; longitudinal studies; mobility patterns; patrones de movilidad

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Department of Sociology, and Department of Geography,The University of Texas at Austin,

Publication date: 2012-11-01

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