Safe as houses? Bogotá helping women into better accommodation

This blog post is also available in Spanish.

Bogotá, 2023. A vibrant Latin American city of 8 million inhabitants, where 48% of households are headed by women. Yet even today, those women face far greater challenges than men.

Unemployment among women is 15%, compared to 12% for men. Likewise, 39% of women are in poverty compared to 34% of men. In terms of income, women receive only 86% of the salary earned by men on average. And 14% of women-led households have inadequate housing.

Helping women find their feet

There are many battles for our women to fight, but to do so, they must start from a place they can call home. And it can’t be just any home. Women require housing solutions that support them in finding work, caring for others and escaping domestic violence and the internal armed conflict.

We have designed and implemented a portfolio of housing solutions for low-income households (equal to or less than $495 USD) and vulnerable households, in the form of rental, purchase, improvement and progressive housing. Through these housing solutions, we delivered more than 12,000 subsidies, 72% of which went to female-headed households.

In recognition of the specific challenges faced by Bogotá’s women, in 2021 we launched a rental programme exclusively for women, which we call “Mi Ahorro, Mi Hogar” (My Savings, My Home).

Claudia Lopez

The programme provides women with vulnerabilities with a monthly subsidy of $160.56 USD ($766,064 COP) for a period of 12 months, with the objective of partially or fully covering the cost of renting. The programme targets female-headed households that, in addition to having low incomes: are at risk of domestic violence; are victims of the internal armed conflict or in the process of reintegration; or are in care-giving roles.

Building towards a brighter future

We want them to build a better future for themselves. That is why a condition for receiving this benefit is that the head of household saves a third of the contribution for the future purchase of a new home. They are also invited to participate in the training programme “Education and financial inclusion” and receive a subsidy for purchase through another of our programmes, the “Preferential offer” (Oferta Preferente).

Thanks to this, women have a set of tools to access decent housing and hope for the future for themselves and their families. Since the “Mi Ahorro, Mi Hogar” programme started in September 2021 and until April 2023, 4,600 women have benefited and 169 women are already in the process of buying their homes.

A city that delivers for women

The programme is making a real difference. In the words of beneficiary Olivia Palacios, a woman displaced by violence in Alto Baudó (Chocó), the programme has made a positive contribution to her life.

“As a mother and head of household, I am managing to save thanks to the “Mi Ahorro Mi Hogar” programme, and also thanks to my work as a cleaner of course. I have been with the programme for 6 months now, I never thought I would be able to buy my own home. But I see that dreams do come true.”

Olivia Palacios

The stories of women like Olivia remind us of the importance of continuing to work for a fairer and more equitable society, where all women have access to quality housing and as a platform for their future. “Mi Ahorro, Mi Hogar” is a programme that contributes to equality, recognition and autonomy for women in the city.

We also share these aims with the vision of our Land Use Plan 2022-35, in which we have a long-term commitment: to make a pact with and for the benefit of women that allows us to build, from a gender perspective, an inclusive city that cares for both women and those they care for.

Mayor at Bogota, Colombia | + posts

Claudia López Hernández was elected Mayor of Bogotá in October 2019 and started her mandate on the 1st of January 2020. She is the city’s first female mayor and also the first openly gay mayor in Bogotá’s history. She has an emphatic focus on environmental, social and anticorruption issues.

Mayor López was a Senator of the Republic of Colombia between 2014 and 2018 and the vice-presidential candidate in the 2018 presidential election for the Green Alliance party. As a senator, she set an example in the fight against corruption, and became a prominent figure in the political arena. She is recognised for her tenacity and enormous capacity for collective action, which led her into academia and public service.

Prior to commencing her political career, Ms López worked as a journalist, researcher and political analyst. She studied Finance, Public Administration and Political Science at the Universidad Externado de Colombia. She has a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Urban Policy from Columbia University and a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University in the United States.