SANTIAGO – A social housing project in one of Santiago’s upscale suburbs, Las Condes, has caused a stir among neighbors. Residents around Atenas roundabout – the chosen location of the project – are worried about the construction of an 85 apartment building. “We are complaining about a demography density problem,” said Alejandra Alonso, a community leader.
Neighbors around Atenas roundabout have protested the construction of a social housing compound. They argue the community is already overcrowded and the widespread construction of high rises represents a problem for the community’s population. In addition, they worry that their house values could drop around 40%.
In an interview with ADN Radio, community leader Alejandra Alonso ensured that they are not against social inclusion, and they happily accept people from other communities. According to Alonso, the problem is that the mayor, Joaquín Lavín, didn’t consult the neighbors before deciding to expand the community. ”Bringing people from other communities to work here is something that hasn’t been defined yet. We are already a community, so we are worried about the demographic density,” said Alonso.
Mayor Lavín denied via Twitter that a problem exists, because the future residents of the compound are Las Condes residents. Lavín also insisted that house values won’t drop. He said: “We want to establish a new policy in Chile, in which the country stops building on cheap soil. That only takes the poor further from us.”
#NadaPersonal @LavinJoaquin sobre viviendas sociales: “Queremos dar la señal que en Chile haya una nueva política y que se deje de construir donde el suelo es más barato que significa llevar a los pobres cada vez más lejos”https://t.co/rL2ulsFDpc pic.twitter.com/NNp7HV3WXc
— Radio Duna (@RadioDuna) July 5, 2018
´Classist and discriminatory´
Inhabitants of the nearby community Las Condesas 5, however, described the protest as “classist and discriminatory.” This community houses people who got their apartments through government subsidies. Macarena Román, who has lived there for about one year and a half, described the quality of the people who live in the community. “There are good neighbors here. We are people who have been raised here. We are hardworking, middle class people,” said Román.
She added that she knows about the housing issue because she works in the sector. So she has heard people expressing discontent about others coming from the top of the city, which is seen as lower class and crime-ridden. “I also come from the top, and I am not a criminal. My family is well built,” expressed Román.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.