HFHA is one step closer to realizing the construction of its first apartment building in La Boca, a neighborhood in Buenos Aires. As many of you know, last year, HFHA bought a rundown building that had been used as a conventillo (tenement) for over 50 years. In such buildings, residents live 6-8 people in one room and share kitchen and bathroom facilities with many other families. These single rooms cost nearly the same as a full apartment, with “extras” like electric fans, water access and the like adding significant extra charges to the final monthly bill.
Not only are these buildings crowded, structurally unsound and prone to damage, the pervasive humidity and the lack of ventilation cause severe health issues. Unfortunately, this living arrangement is often the only housing option for families that cannot meet the many formal conditions required to rent in Buenos Aires. Owners take advantage of the limited choices and hike up prices to indefensible levels.
HFHA took on the big challenge of turning one of the many vacant or ill-used conventillos in the city into an affordable and dignified housing option for urban living. Last year, the organization purchased a building in La Boca and began the long and tedious process of budget meetings and resource development.
In early 2010, the organization began process of acquiring the most expensive part of the building – the elevator (the law requires that buildings over three stories contain an elevator). After a six month process of selection and negotiations, HFHA chose Guillemi & Tentori to provide the elevator for a final cost of nearly $26K US dollars plus tax. This includes a 5% discount on the product cost as well as a 2% donation towards the total payment. As an additional donation, the company has also offered seven months of maintenance support without an additional charge.
With the support of such gracious donors, including the ArcelorMittal Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Bucks County and Paterson Habitat for Humanity, among many others, HFHA has succeeded in gathering the funds to carry the conventillo project through to completion. HFHA signed the contract for the elevator purchase earlier this month, knocking down another hurdle in realizing this innovative undertaking.