HAVANA TIMES – Felicia’s story isn’t an isolated case, there are many families in Havana living in precarious housing. Some people have even lost their lives because they collapse, others have ended up in temporary accommodation, which have very poor living conditions.
One of the State’s responses to the national housing crisis, has been to give residents places like old warehouses or stores that are no longer in use. The State then sells them some of the building materials they need to do up the place, but the family has to buy the rest at market price, pay the builders and at least on paper the State gives them a loan or some money for these expenses which they don’t have to pay back which is known as a “subsidy”.
Felicia only wants a bank loan or a subsidy, any of the established means to help low-income families. She and her husband are now retired, receive a state pension and their children have very low incomes, so they can’t afford to renovate the place, much less make an apartment.
Felicia has turned 73 years old, and she has spent 30 of those years struggling to try and fix up the place they were given, an old warehouse. In the ‘70s, the building they used to live in was declared “uninhabitable”, in danger of collapsing, so they were given the place they currently live in, at no. 834 Aguila street between Gloria and Corrales streets in Old Havana.
A housing official explained to her that they had been given this place because of the number of people in the family, that they would be given material over time to build rooms; in other words, to build a home suitable for a family.
Decades have passed and Felicia hasn’t received any help at all. Today, she is a retired woman, with a low income (retirement in Cuba for most people is between 10 and 15 USD a month), who can’t afford to do up the place at all, much less build a home. Her only wish is that her situation is recognized and that a government official keeps their word and gives them what they were promised and have a right to.