The program for the eradication of settlements designed by the national government, called Avanzar, was officially presented. On the occasion, President Luis Lacalle Pou recalled the commitment assumed and highlighted the human vocation to improve this reality.
The project will be applied in 120 settlements, in more than 15,000 homes, and will have 240 million dollars.
The activity took place in the Executive Tower and was also attended by the Minister of Housing and Territorial Planning, Irene Moreira; the national director of Social and Urban Integration, Florencia Arbeleche; the Undersecretary of Housing, Tabaré Hackenbruch, and the President of the Congress of Mayors, Guillermo López.
Lacalle Pou, in his speech, expressed that the heterogeneity of the settlements and their different realities affect the complexity of the issue. In addition, he pointed out the accumulated experience and the human vocation to improve this reality in all the governments of Uruguay. In this sense, he argued that it is important to allocate resources to this issue, in order to carry out the task.
Regarding the Avanzar plan, he highlighted the work of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the generosity of public institutions and the agreements in the parliamentary sphere. “It’s a turning point,” she said.
He also stressed that the stage after obtaining resources is the most important, since families living in settlements must be taken care of. “You have to start with decent housing, it is difficult to get up every day without sanitation, under sheets and nylon,” he said.
He reported that the proposed approach, which is basically in infrastructure, must include a deep affective sense and love for others. “Housing is not enough, it is fundamental, but it is not enough if the children do not have access to a health center, to a school and if Mides is not nearby, leveraging them,” he said.
For these reasons, Lacalle Pou explained why work began for the households involved. However, he indicated that the issue should be addressed from different institutions and prioritized the work of the departmental administrations. “Having the intendants and mayors embark on this task is going to help us a lot to have a positive impact,” she revealed.
Regarding the end, the president affirmed that it is always aspired that there be no settlements in the country, but that this result is not obtained in a period of government, but must be a national policy. “This turning point will be followed by those who come if we do things right,” he said.
“Today is a day, particularly politically and personally, to fulfill a dream. You can dream, you have to put intellect, surround yourself with technical capacity, get the resources, and now is the time to move forward, ”he said.
New structure, coordination and resources
As of March 1, 2020, there were more than 600 settlements in the country, where just under 200,000 Uruguayans lived, Moreira said. He considered that it was a shocking figure and that the right to decent housing must be complied with, as determined by article 45 of the Constitution of the Republic.
“This government took office with the determination not to ignore this problem,” emphasized the hierarch, who recalled that the COVID-19 pandemic forced a redirection of state resources. However, she said, the housing and settlement problem was never ignored.
In this sense, he explained that in 2020 and 2021 intense work was done on several of them and 1,345 room solutions were completed. He added that the Accountability Law granted resources to address this problem and also through a trust called “social and urban integration.”
He valued the relationship between the entire public housing system, the Congress of Mayors and the 19 departmental governments to work comprehensively and prevent new occupations.
“It is the largest social work focused on irregular settlements in the history of Uruguay, the State at the service of a social housing policy,” he pondered.
Hackenbruch, meanwhile, remarked that since the beginning of Lacalle Pou’s political life in Canelones, one of the biggest concerns was to materialize a plan like Avanzar and, for this reason, he maintains his leadership and commitment.
He argued that it is based on a wealth of experience and institutional continuity, among which he cited Mevir and the Neighborhood Improvement, Relocation and Together programs.
Arbeleche said that the issue of the settlements is complex, that all the efforts were not enough and that Advancing is a turning point in the response that the State provides to many people who need it so much.
In his presentation, he pointed out the new organizational structure, the joint work with the 19 municipalities and the availability of financial resources.
He announced that 240 million dollars will be invested, a figure that doubles the investment in settlements in the last government periods, to intervene in 120 of them and in more than 15,000 homes.
Currently, work is being carried out in 40 settlements, the additional resources allowed the intervention to be resumed in 20 and 60 were added throughout the country. This was agreed and relieved with the departmental administrations.
López referred to the commitment to implement and address this housing policy for the good of the residents and underlined the Government’s sensitivity in addressing the main problem for the most vulnerable layer of society.
Among those attending the event were also the Vice President of the Republic, Beatriz Argimón; the secretary and deputy secretary of the Presidency, Álvaro Delgado and Rodrigo Ferrés, respectively; together with national and departmental authorities.