Cementing the Deal for Better Streets
What makes a street worthy of an upgrade in cash strapped Guadalajara? Israel Moreno can tell you. Creator of Patrimonio Hoy, an innovative housing improvement initiative run by the Cemex Corporation, he found that once families have succeeded in improving their homes, they start looking for ways to improve their neighborhood.
“They say, ‘Please extend the program to the streets. Let me pave my sidewalk with the same system’," he explains. Suddenly, city officials take notice, not just of the improved homes, but also of a new sense of civic pride among the residents.
“The municipal governments came to us,” Moreno says. They didn’t have all the funds to deliver on the needed improvements, but for the first time in years, they were ready to help.
Building on a savings club system established by Patrimonio Hoy, Moreno helped Cemex Corporation set up Calle Digna, which translates as Worthy Street. Members of a community team up to make weekly payments to cover the purchase of cement and other necessary materials.
After about eighteen weeks of demonstrated commitment, Cemex advances the full materials for construction. The city provides the trucks and manpower to pave the roads, build sidewalks, and install drains and water mains.
The overall cost of improvement is ultimately split 50:50 between the government and the citizens. For the residents, it is a lesson in banding together. “When they started working together,” says Gloria Noemi Cardenas, a project supervisor, “they discovered they could get more from the government.”
A resident, Rosa Magaña is pleased to see the work going on around her neighborhood in the Tonala municipality. “When people get organized, they start looking for other things for their own neighborhood.” Next, she says, they will be tackling school, police and public transportation.