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Building Better Cities

Building Better Cities with Strategic Investments in Social Housing

A Set of Proposals to Promote Innovation in the Social Housing Sector by Strengthening the Urbanism-Housing Nexus through New Forms of Coordination

Volume I

Principal Investigator:
Diane Davis

Research Associates:
Nélida Escobedo Ruiz
Margaret Scott
Research Assistants:
Fernando Granados Franco
Francisco Lara García
David Schoen Parente
Rethinking Social Housing in Mexico Project

Building on fieldwork in seven Mexican cities, this report: 1) outlines the major barriers and enablers to densification, 2) identifies a series of challenges that must be overcome if mortgage credits for social housing are to be used to build more sustainable cities, 3) suggests a recalibration of policy goals to emphasize urban value creation and better urbanism rather than densification per se, and 4) proposes a new institutional platform that will help INFONAVIT achieve these goals. Called the Urban Value Creation Platform, its aim is to solicit and enable support for context-specific social housing projects that envision shelter not as an object conceived through a mass production mentality, but rather as a stimulus for assembling healthier neighborhoods and constructing more efficiently organized, environmentally and socially sustainable cities. As a proposed innovation, the Urban Value Creation (UVC) Platform builds its mission around INFONAVIT’s founding principles as a financial institution intended to serve Mexican workers, employers, and the country as a whole, but it brings this mission more in line with recent challenges associated with rapid and sprawling urbanization by promoting the use of a wider range of metrics, incentives, and decision-making processes to ensure that urban value creation impacts are made central to its mortgage programs. In its essence, the UVC Platform challenges the one-size fits all mentality of prior program development, and works under the assumption that through more purposeful engagement with local stakeholders, mediated by INFONAVIT state delegates serving a key role in coordinating and convening conversations around strategic co-investments, workers’ own money can be more productively spent and national urban goals can be more readily achieved. Through its coordinating activities, the Platform will increase the likelihood that mortgage credit support for social housing will create assets for both the individual homeowner and the larger urban environment. If the Platform works as conceived, such investments can be leveraged in ways that also bring medium-term returns back to INFONAVIT, both ensuring financial solvency and making funds available for future projects.

FULL REPORT: Building Better Cities with Strategic Investments in Social Housing