The Guardian, UK
Wednesday June 29, 2005 1:46 AM
HAVANA (AP) - Cuba said it was facing a massive housing shortage Tuesday and must build a half million homes over the next decade to deal with the crisis, according to a government report.
The National Housing Institute said in a report released at a conference this week that despite the need for about 50,000 new homes a year, only about 15,000 were built during 2004.
Parliament Speaker Ricardo Alarcon said at the opening of the U.N.-sponsored conference, which deals with sustainable development, that housing has become one of the communist government’s most serious challenges.
According to the report, some 43 percent of Cuban housing is in mediocre or poor shape. Population growth, tropical weather and poor maintenance contribute to the crisis.
The average cost of building a house in communist Cuba is $8,000, with rehabilitation of an existing home costing about $1,000, the report said.
Despite the problems, the report claimed that the situation is better today than during the era of dictator Fulgencio Batista, who was toppled by Fidel Castro in 1959.
Since 1953, the population has doubled to more than 11.2 million but the number of homes has tripled, according to the report.
Officials from 30 countries attended the United Nations-sponsored conference, which was to run through Friday.