Daisy Valera

HAVANA TIMES — Warning: I don’t believe that “complaining” is the prostitution of one’s character.

For this reason, and as a way of thanking all of the readers of Havana Times who have tried to help me, I’m writing this second part in an attempt to jump from complaining to reality.

First: I was only able to find a place to rent until September 10.

I’m living in a place out in Guanabacoa township, where only one bus goes by every 50 minutes. I’m not sure if the neighborhood is called El Roble or Caguairan.

Since the stove is located exactly four steps away from the bed, I get the idea that I’m living in Tokyo or vacationing in a Ministry of the Interior hotel.

I’m not one who gives up easily, I just don’t adapt. I’m not an active member in the ranks of cheap optimism.

I still think I’m screwed. I’m still looking for a place to rent in Havana.

Ok, that’s the end of whining section.
At the last congress of the Cuban communist Party, there were over 11,000 complaints related to the issue of housing in Cuba.

In November 2011 the government issued Executive Order 288 to legalize the buying and selling of housing, speed up home swaps and to facilitate “self-help” construction.
Soon we’ll be marking one year since that order took effect.

So what do we have?

As of June of this year, the State and Cooperative Sector (with all the necessary resources at its disposal) has built only 8,972 homes across the country (705 in Havana).
Individuals and families (chasing around after materials, lining up behind every load of lumber, paying in hard currency for cement and tiles) ended up building 4,719 self-help units (385 in Havana).

For those who want to object by saying that the government makes allocations towards health care and education, I’ll save them the comment:

Of the funding allocated towards the economy, 13.98% went for the construction of hotels and restaurants, while “Health, Education and Welfare” received a modest 3.59% of the total.

If we note that for the same period in 2010 they built 13,825 houses but only 13,691 this year, we can’t be very happy.

The situation doesn’t appear to be improving, and this directly affects those of us who are trying to rent to escape overcrowded conditions.

On the outskirts of the city, where the problems of transportation and food prices are sharpest, monthly rents can reach 40 CUCs (about $45 USD).

The owners of small apartments with barbacoas (installed second floors) in neighborhoods such as Cerro and 10 de October demand between 60 and 70 CUCs.

Finally, rents in the modern areas of the city (Playa, Nuevo Vedado and Vedado) can reach as much as 150 CUCs a month.

Obviously these amounts go far beyond the average Cuban wage of less than 20 CUCs a month.

Some measures could improve the current rental situation:
– Long waited-for wage increases
– A decrease in the high tax on rental revenue (a tax that promotes illegal activity and harms all those involved in renting).
– The provision of information about places for rent (on websites, in the press, etc.).

In the meantime, we’ll continue to perform our magic of everyday existence, counting on luck or waiting for the buildings of the ministries of Agriculture or Transportation to be converted into apartment buildings.

Note: The official statistics were taken from the National Statistics Office (ONE): www.one.cu/
“Construction in Cuba, selected indicators. January to June 2012.”
“Construction in Cuba, selected indicators. January to June 2011.”


Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

6 thoughts on “Looking to Rent in Havana (II)

  • If you look around, there is not a single country, under any political-economic system, that has been able or probably make a decent attempt to solve solved the lack of housing, nevermind “affordable housing”.

    Comparing NYC, HAVANA, RIO, Cairo etc, is just blah, blah, blah.

    State controled economy countries make a dissmal effort.
    So called free enterprise system is interested in returns in investment.
    That said, it appears that “greed” does a better job than “nationalistic intentions”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *