This issue of Revista INVI invites our readers to go through different interesting, important and current thematic areas of interest in line with the mission of INVI regarding both the dissemination of theoretical-practical knowledge of residential habitat from an integral perspective; contribute to the improvement of quality of life through the sustainable development of habitat within the urban and rural residential domain; sustainable development oriented towards the progressive eradication and the construction of a fairer and more equitable society.
In the first paper, “Traces of the Metropolization Process in Chile”, the authors analyze the changes in the urban quality of life within the three main metropolitan areas of the country (Greater Santiago, Greater Valparaíso and Greater Concepción) over the 2002-2012 period. To this end, they use the Urban Quality of Life Index (UQLI) and different geographic information systems to compare and decipher patterns and trends. In their findings, authors point out that the comparison of results obtained from the 2002-2012 period reveals a decrease in the quality of life among the urban municipalities of the country over the aforementioned span of time; however, there is an important gap that still exists in these metropolitan areas, especially in the case of Greater Santiago.
In the second paper, “Indicators for the Monitoring and Evaluation of Socio-housing Management in Non-metropolitan Cities”, author Daniela Mariana Gargantini focuses on Latin American non-metropolitan urban centers, which may present a large concentration of shortfalls at urban and housing levels; in the face of this scenario, municipalities have redesigned their traditional functions with the purpose of achieving more efficacy and efficiency to improve socio-housing issues. When facing the location process, the author proposes the identification, description and justification of the indicators that facilitate the monitoring and evaluation of local management of habitat in non-metropolitan cities from an integral and associative perspective of social housing. To this end, a series of indicators are developed, including the formulation of both a system of indicators of local socio-housing management process and a system of results of local socio-housing management; all of these are based on an integral development perspective that considers the complexity and multidimensionality of social issues.
The two following contributions address a recurring topic in Latin America: natural catastrophes and disasters. In the first paper, “Promoting the Local Development of Disaster-Affected Communities”, author Alicia Cristina Razeto Pavez formulates a conceptual analysis aimed at proposing that the so-called natural disasters are a social phenomena and thus the response to those situations should not only focus on physical reconstruction and assistance, but also on considering mechanisms intended to maximize the development conditions in stricken areas from an integral perspective aimed at addressing this type of disasters. Such an initiative includes a multidimensional local development approach for disaster response policies; this approach identifies the four dimensions that compose the local development concept of a territory: economic, sociocultural, politic and environmental dimensions. In this context, the conceptual link between disaster and development is the notion of change: once a place is affected by a disaster, it will never be the same and, given that chaos is the main enabler of change, societies might be prone to embrace a new state of affairs. In the second paper about this thematic area, “The Housing Reconstruction Process in Downtown Talca: An Overview after Two Years of the Catastrophe”, authors Alejandra Rasse and Francisco Letelier address a specific case in which the reconstruction policy promoted by the Chilean Government is analyzed in view of the current situation of the reconstruction process of central and historical neighborhoods located in Talca, capital city of the VII Region. This paper reveals that reconstruction policy is oriented towards the production of housing through the allocation of subsidies rather than on the reconstruction of territory, being the outskirts of the city the place that concentrates the application of benefits and the subsequent construction of housing on the part of the private sector; in contrast, there are low reconstruction levels in the central neighborhoods of the city. The practical result of such a policy is the promotion of the extension of the city along private property interests, setting aside the real reconstruction of the historical center to the actions that their original residents may undertake for better or worse, since most of those residents belong to lower socio-economic groups that do not have the resources to afford the reconstruction and regeneration of the area. This reconstruction policy, defined by governmental authorities themselves as non-binding in nature and beyond the few pre-existing programs the policy does not include special incentives to collective application or measures oriented towards the regeneration and improvement of public spaces in neighborhoods.
The following contribution, “An Approach to a Sustainability-Based Habitability. Theoretical Bases and Challenges Ahead”, addresses the environmental crisis and the need to redefine the concept of habitability; such an environmental crisis has its roots in the change of the productive system as the result of the Industrial Revolution, defined as the leap from “organic societies to mineral societies.” The purpose of habitability is to enable the satisfaction of certain needs; this concept evolves hand in hand with society, adapting itself to the different ways of life contained in society. In this paper, the authors raise a series of questions such as “What needs should be satisfied through habitability?,” “Is housing the satisfier of habitability?” and “What is the role of resources -and waste, which is growing importance- within the process of satisfaction of needs over time?”
Finally, in the sixth and last paper, “Hierarchization of Demand. A Comparative Analysis on Social Housing Allocation Processes”, authors conduct a comparative analysis of the allocation and purchase housing processes within the “Urban Development of Slums and Settlements Subprogram” in the Municipality of Avellaneda and the “Transformation, Integration and Settling Program” in a slum area located in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires; both locations belonging to the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires. As stated in the introduction of the paper, it is important to observe the criteria and disputes generated around the selection of beneficiaries who appear on the housing recipient lists. This contribution analyzes the “Federal Program for Housing Construction in Avellaneda” and the “Transformation, Integration and Settling Program for Slums” in correlation to specific cases and the revision of important aspects such as the relationship, or non-relationship, of the housing project to a territorial reorganization plan.
This issue ends with the Opinion on the “Review of ‘Spanish Cities in Climate Change Network’ Best Practice from the Environmental European Strategy”, written by Rafael Córdoba Hernández and Agustín Hernández-Aja, which evaluates the municipal practices presented at the “Spanish Network of Cities for the Climate” Best Practice 2008 in relation to the environmental policies included in the EU VI Community Action Program on Environment, and most especially, to the Thematic Strategy on Climate Change.
The different topics chosen in this issue provide evidence, findings and background for the search of ideas, questions and challenges for future research to the benefit of Latin American population.
Gustavo Carrasco Pérez