#CubaDiaries: Havana's Housing Crisis

Photo via Google Images

Photo via Google Images

Let’s Talk About the Housing Crisis

Did you know that the people in Cuba weren’t able to own their own property until about 5 years ago (which is 2011)? All buildings were government owned. All people were renters.

But just because people are now allowed to own homes, doesn't mean they can suddenly afford it.

Housing prices for a standard apartment in Cuba range from $20-30 CUC per month, which can be three times the average person’s monthly pay.
 
So, how does one pay the rent? Multiple workers in the household all working full-time jobs?
 
And after rent, is there anything left for food? Clothes? Healthcare? Personal maintenance? It doesn’t look like it, and if there is much left over, it won’t stretch too far. 

As I looked around this beautiful + tattered city, I saw that many of the buildings in Havana were abandoned and in ruins. The only buildings that were truly well maintained seemed to be new hotel developments, government owned buildings, and museums/theaters.
 
Building maintenance is costly, and many of the Cuban people are unable to afford it—and if they are able to afford it, they might not want repair their homes out of fear of being spotted as ‘more wealthy than others.’ Thus becoming a target in the eyes of their socialist government.
 
From what I saw and experienced, the Cuban people are very family centric. They are loving, and they are kind. It was so refreshing and beautiful to see couples (new and old), walking down the streets, in love and holding hands.
 
It made me ask myself, “Is this the underlying benefit of socialism? A deep connection to the people around you?”
 
I’m not here to get into the psychology of money, but I am here to point out that in Havana, I saw the lowest rate of homelessness that I’ve ever seen in the world. 
 
The Cuban people didn’t have all the glitz, or the glam, or the best access to clean water and fresh food—but people take care of each other.

I think I would give up all of those material things in exchange for those strong emotional bonds.
 
Shoes will scuff, clothes will tatter, food will spoil—but your friends, your family, your sweethearts--they are really the ones that breathe life into your soul.

Can you remember the last time you felt connection like that?
 
If you've felt like that at all, you’re lucky because that's what life is all about.

 
Diya SenGuptacuba