Colonial Zone remake could leave hundreds homeless

The Colonial Zone Residents Association Union has warned that if the City Council of the National District (ADN) intervenes and places the buildings identified as “Public Dangers” up for auction, hundreds of families will become homeless. Union president Mercedes Costes called for a solution that included the inhabitants of the 72 seriously deteriorated buildings. “Nobody wants to live in misery or place their family at risk or in danger.” Costes said that hundreds of families are living precariously in these properties because of low cost and poverty. “They are in (the houses) because they pay very little. And because the owners receive so little money, they are not interested,” said Costes, adding that in some cases the owners themselves are poor and cannot afford to repair the houses. In other cases, it is in the owners’ interest for the property to collapse or becomes uninhabitable because “it becomes easier to get rid of the tenants,” the community leader told Diario Libre.

The Colonial City Development Association, Ciudad Ovando, complained yesterday that despite the pressure that is being applied by the city government to renovate the properties within the historical city, at least ten projects to reform and rebuild properties have been submitted by their members. The problem is that it has taken between two and three years for their approval and some others have still not been approved. “The projects have to go to the City Council, to Monumental Heritage, to Public Works, to the Ministry of Tourism and to UNESCO for approval,” said Louis Brocker, the president of Ciudad Ovando, who stressed that the bureaucracy also threatens the lives of the residents. “If today, right now, a person wants to renovate his house, it is going to take two years just to get the permits,” said Brocker. He also warned that all these delays scare away investment in the Colonial Zone.