About the Affordable Cities blog series and #BetterUrbanHousing
People living in cities across the world are facing the effects of the housing affordability and cost-of-living crisis. OECD Champion Mayors recently endorsed the new “OECD Brussels Blueprint for Affordable cities and Housing for All” at the Brussels Urban Summit where they shared innovative solutions to tackle these challenges and drive more inclusive economic growth. They continue to drive efforts that shape a more affordable, equitable and resilient urban future. www.oecd-inclusive.com/champion-mayors/
More than a billion people around the world live in squalid conditions. They wake up every day in a place without light, clean water or basic sanitation. Sometimes in crowded dwellings, sometimes in inhospitable places. Wherever they are, millions of people are losing hope that things can change.
Argentina is no exception. The national crisis — combining high inflation and falling wages — has left entire families vulnerable.
A policy going beyond homes
As head of the City Government of Buenos Aires, this is an issue that is very close to my heart and to which my administration gives priority. From day one, we decided we could not afford to stand back. We had to work to ensure that all people, wherever they live, could have a roof over their heads and opportunities to improve their lives.
Seven years ago, we began the most ambitious process of “integration” of working-class neighbourhoods in Argentina’s history. And I say “integrate” because it goes beyond redevelopment.
Our aim is to solve structural poverty in all its dimensions. This means focussing on housing, but also on health, education, work and engagement in community life. We are building new houses and providing materials to fix existing ones. We are also developing parks, schools, health centres and training centres – guaranteeing not just housing but a future for our citizens.
This is a housing policy that goes beyond homes. We have built and improved more than 9,200 houses, moved 5,400 families and delivered more than 46 kilometres of transport infrastructure. We’ve laid 131 thousand square metres of pavements, 508 streets and 7 bus lines that connect previously isolated neighbourhoods.
Taking advantage of teleworking
Rents in Argentina continue to rise ahead of wages. One of the ways we are responding is to encourage an increase in the supply of flats in the Microcentro, a neighbourhood of offices and almost exclusively commercial use that after the pandemic and the growth of teleworking was left empty. What we did was to offer tax benefits to those who wanted to invest in the area, transforming offices into flats.
And it was a success! By April 2023, we had already approved 130,000 square metres of works that will convert offices into housing and strategic commercial activities, such as cafés and restaurants for future neighbours.
Alongside this incentive for landlords in the Microcentro Porteño, a few weeks ago, we launched three new programmes to facilitate rentals in other neighbourhoods of the city. We are offering credits for both tenants and landlords to refurbish flats. We are also proposing credits to help citizens cover all expenses related to moving, tax exemptions for rental contracts and affordable options for rent guarantees and insurance. These are all especially challenging factors for those who are looking to move.
A place to live – and to live well
This policy of converting space, refurbishing what already exists and improving accessibility is about the long term. It’s about finding a new purpose for the things we already have to live more sustainably.
We are convinced that this is the way forward. We will continue to work to transform the city, and provide more families across the country with a safe and dignified place to live – and to fulfil their dreams.
About the OECD Champion Mayors Initiative
Created in 2016, the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative is a global coalition of mayors who meet on a regular basis to share their experience in the pursuit of inclusive growth in cities. Since its inception, over 100 different mayors from around the world have joined the Initiative, contributing their voice to the global debate, and making major strides in their cities toward youth empowerment, sustainable climate policy and support for SMEs. The Champion Mayors will meet at the Brussels Urban Summit on 13 June to drive change on improving housing affordability and cost of living for residents in their cities.
This blog is also available in spanish.
Horacio Rodríguez Larreta was born in Buenos Aires, in 1965. He is married and has three daughters. He is the Mayor of the city since december 9, 2015. Prior to that, he served for 8 years as Chief of Cabinet of Mayor Mauricio Macri, former President of Argentina. Horacio Rodríguez Larreta holds a BA in Economics from the University of Buenos Aires and a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard University.