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Paper—Staying a Step Ahead: Institutional Flexibility in the Rehabilitation of Social Housing in Oaxaca


The Mexican National Workers’ Housing Fund Institute, or Infonavit, is the most important actor in the nation’s housing market. As of 2015, it was the leader in mortgage origination, accounting for roughly 74 percent of all housing loans.

The institute was founded in 1972 with the mission of fulfilling the right to housing provided to workers as established in the Mexican Constitution, primarily through the provision of credit for the purchase of formal housing. Today, roughly one out of every four Mexicans lives in a home financed or built by Infonavit. Success for the institution has traditionally been measured regarding the number of houses built: the more, the better. Through the first decade of the new millennium, Infonavit experienced tremendous growth in the number of loans originated. This expansion coincided with a transition from Infonavit’s historical role as an organization that designed and constructed the housing they financed, to one reliant on private developers for the production of housing. 

This paper was written by Davi Schoen while he was a graduate student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). Diane E. Davis, Professor of Regional Development and Urbanism in GSD’s Department of Urban Planning and Design was the Principal Investigator for this project, which was carried out with funding provided by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies via its Student Research Support Program and by Fundación Hogares.

Follow this link to read the full paper published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Also, read more about the discussion panel that took place on November 9th, 2016 at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Paulina Campos (CEO, Fundación Hogares), Surella Segú (Former Head of Office for Urban Development at Infonavit), and Emiliano García (Principal Designer, Taller de Operaciones Ambientales) joined Diane Davis and Davi Schoen in a conversation of the strategies deployed to address the problems of housing abandonment in Mexico.