Habitat and Decent Houses for Santa Lucia dwellers / Sustainable management and action plan for Santa Lucia

Habitat and Decent Houses for Santa Lucia dwellers / Sustainable management and action plan for Santa Lucia

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The project is integrated by programs and experiences of a technical, social and cultural nature. Since 2005 the Association has performed housing and habitat intervention, research and diagnosis actions in the historic sector of the Santa Lucia Locality, Municipality of Maracaibo, State of Zulia, Venezuela, which presents severe conditions of physical and building decay. Houses have a serious level of deterioration and families live in insecure ownership conditions. Each house is occupied by around two / four families, where space is insufficient, basic health conditions are irregular, access to water is not ensured and the same applies to the quality of drinking water.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Our project, through sustainable strategies, aims at benefited women, jobless young persons, children attending schools and those who do not, low income families, groups of homeless families. The basis for research contemplated the general analysis of 304 houses inhabited by two / three families. The expected impact would offer answers to a zone with more than 4000 houses. This experience may also replicate in other sectors such as Veritas, La Ciega, Valle Frío, among others, with a high level of poverty, social insecurity and with a high social risk population.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The special plans for the improvement of central urban areas mainly focus on the exploitation or urban resources, in terms of heritage, tourism or land re-valuation, thus ignoring the residential nature that these areas have had and sustain for its poor dwellers, which often generates overcrowding and eradication processes affecting inhabitants and families in the central urban area. These people remain in this area in spite of the severely deficient living conditions. In Latin America and the Caribbean, there are many examples similar to this one and there is a diversity of ways to approach such situation. However, in all cases there is a coincidence in the fact that solutions must be contextualized, promoting active community participation not as a distant and abstract concept but as an identity that may me reckoned by families and inhabitants, with full names, faces, identified needs and houses, in order to start up with operating and strategic plans. It is at this stage that diagnosis and substantial problem detection is important, and it is from this viewpoint that the Alternative Habitat Organization has initiated an innovative working methodology, by putting its efforts together with the efforts of local entities, individuals and families of this sector which are fully aware of this issue at a social and technical level. The Association designs and manages actions with a direct incidence in the change of factors and conditions that are adverse to the families’ life quality.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The different local, regional and national government levels, develop a “policy” of interventions in the areas which are assisted by our Association in connection with housing. This policy only looks at the superficial formal deterioration conditions without paying much attention to the life quality of the families living in those houses. The Government answer is limited to the substitution of technical and formal values in terms of construction in the façades, or the first house module, and short-term or superficial actions focusing on maintaining “attractive values” for tourism or on the exploitation of a distorted concept of historic - heritage resources in this sector. The high price paid as a consequence of this policy is the social issue which is insufficiently attended at the different government levels, creating a situation of generalized social deterioration and insecurity. This is expressed by the inhabitants as their main problem. The Association through hard work has so far developed a different approach to this issue and in particular the community participation in the generation of answers, training of participants to solve the problem of the structural deficiency of their houses, and the maintenance of the real cultural value of tangible and intangible heritage and what has been built is only the beginning of our work.
About You
Asociación Civil Hábitat Alternativo
About You
First Name


Last Name

Contreras Soto

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Asociación Civil Hábitat Alternativo

Organization Phone


Organization Address

Maracaibo. Urb. Cuatricentenario 1era Etapa, Sector 2, Calle 28 Casa 36.

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

The Alternative Habitat Association is born as a spontaneous organization in 2005 2006, as the initiative of several persons (community representatives, engineers, architects, sociologists, artists, popular craftsmen and builders), locations (Coro, Mérida, Maracaibo) through different moments. Each member, with their own research works, proper of other regions, added expertise, knowledge, and a willing to learn from applied research, at first in connection with specific habitat improvement in the historic sector of the Santa Lucia district, in the city of Maracaibo, and at present, the Association’s proposals have been made extensive to habitat and housing intervention in the suburban area. IN 2001 we made the first financing application before the Ministry of Science and Technology (which was then called the CONYCIT), and it was only at the end of 2005 that we obtained resources to formally start with research works. Since 2001 until the date when we obtained the resource approval, all initiatives were managed on our own initiative and / or subsidized by the founding members and sponsors who believed in the importance and appropriateness of the proposal. We were initially driven by our need to know and record the traditional construction techniques in the historic sector, thanks to the influence of such persons as Arch. Enrique Capa Blanca, Arch. Jacqueline Alcalá, Arch. Pedro Romero, Arch. Juan Borges, Arch. Lucia Garzón, researchers in the area of heritage conservation and the study of building techniques.

Social Impact
How many people have been impacted by your project?

101 - 1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?


What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The constant changes in the housing policies in this country, the fractioning of the community movements due to social – political issues, make unstable the progress which as a strategy for macro and micro financing is taking place at the communities. No doubt there is also lack of financing for projects on local impact, research, intervention and training, for the sustainable recovery, and this weakens the self-management and voluntary action envisaged by our Association and other similar organizations.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

We apply for financing at national and international levels. We establish alliances with Universities and non-government institutions in our search for resources and support of a technical and social nature. It is important to point out that since 2007 we have started the creation of a database where the inhabitants may not only consult on the current condition of the houses that they occupy but also they may design the improvements that they want to make from their own economic possibilities and their power as a family, through processes of building their own houses with the proper supervision, with the cooperation of neighbors, the formation of micro-enterprises in the building sector, builders, and a series of activities arising from the human and organizational power.

For each selection, please explain the financial and non-financial support from each

Through the voluntary community action as also through the access that these organizations have to the financing of community projects by the National Government, the Municipal Government, intervention in these areas is the competence of the municipal government. The municipality estimates a percentage for the development of actions in these areas. The sector has been declared at national and regional levels as historic heritage. This assistance thins down or is not used due to lack of integral projects consistent with this issue.

How do you plan to grow and/or diversify your base of support in the next three years?

Technical self-management and local economy development. Making courses and workshops to generate the answers and technical solutions in the community. Fostering permanent training and self-management in a practical direct fashion between the inhabitants and the ones that will be benefited by these actions. Training also aims at the formation of micro-enterprises and a change of attitude in the population for the development of local economy development.
Applications for subsidies for applied research. At present applications are being presented for subvention programs for research and development of technological innovation.
Formulation of project for government financing of community proposals. Municipal Committees, community-related organizations with government support, among others.

Please select your areas of intervention in the home improvement market

Design, Technology, Technical assistance, Labor, Property rights, Sanitation, Green housing, Income generation, Urban development, Citizen/community participation, Public policy.

Is your innovation addressing barriers in the home improvement/progressive housing market? If so, please describe in detail your mechanisms of intervention

The Alternative Habitat Association, through an interdisciplinary, self-managed and voluntary team, pursues consistent objectives for the improvement of life quality for families who live in precarious urban, periurban or rural housings, and to overcome these conditions with mechanisms generated by the beneficiary community itself, as a way to foster social empowerment and sustainable measures for human development.
To that end, we have developed operating and strategic management answers in technological, social, social-cultural, social-economic aspects, starting from a diagnosis process and the generation of applied solutions: design and application of technical solutions for alternative construction, based on traditional building techniques with mud, bahareque, pressed adobe. We have made some experiences in community houses with our own financing and the cooperation of community volunteers –families and inhabitants. The construction of basic health units for deficient houses through the guided self-management construction dynamics (this proposal has not been applied due to lack of resources, so far); recovery of covers and system for collecting rain water in traditional houses; consolidation of wall structures and recovery of bahareques (this is a self-managed experience –with excellent results); permanent training programs for young people, adults and older people on cultural built heritage, workshops on traditional and alternative building techniques with mud (workshops given in the community with the support of local cultural community organizations) housing registration and diagnosis and formation of a database for the use of the community as a stage previous to a project base and an information and community documentation center.
The community in the historic Santa Lucia sector presents the problems which are proper of a precarious settlement, to whom we address our proposals and start working on direct actions together with the community through community representatives and organizations. Cipet, the Diversity Cultural House, Community Councils, in order to innovate and assist in the modification of situations relating to precarious habitat and houses.

Are you currently collaborating with private companies, or have you partnered with private companies in the past? With which companies?


Please describe in detail the nature of the partnership(s)

not applicable.

Select the unit(s) with which the partnership was formed