San José, Costa Rica, since 1956


Since July 2003, I have had custodyof my children (thank God). I want tobuild a house, but do not have themeans. I want to provide my childrenwith a good education and upbringing.I need to move somewhere where theconditions are more controlled, interms of the management of limits,diet, etc., and if possible, in totalabsence of television. Can you helpwith this?–Sergio A. Solano,CartagoThe Tico Times looked into variousforms of aid available to families withlimited resources.The state-run Banco Hipotecario dela Vivienda (Housing Mortgage Bank)gives monetary assistance to qualifiedfamilies in need in the form of bonos devivienda (housing grants) throughauthorized agencies such as the banksMutual de Alajuela and Mutual deCartago. In the past three years, 29,500grants have been given to families inneed, according to the bank. The grantscan be used to subsidize the purchase ofproperty and build a home, or to remodelor build an addition to an existinghome. For information on whether youqualify, contact the Banco Hipotecarioat 253-0233.Habitat for Humanity helps familiesbuild their own homes. The familymust already own a piece of propertymeasuring a minimum of 42 squaremeters. To qualify, a family must havelimited income and be able to contributemanual labor to the construction of thehouse. Specific construction skills arenot needed, just a willingness to work.The family also must be able to makepayments of $40-60 a month for 10-15years to cover the cost of the materials,specialized labor and administrativecosts. The payments go into a fund tobuild more houses for families in need.The payments are in dollars, with nointerest charged. For more information,contact Habitat for Humanity at 233-2382, 233-0514 or 233-6352.Those who own property can receiveassistance from the government’sMixed Institute for Social Aid(IMAS). If IMAS verifies that a familyhas no other way to finance the constructionof a house or a necessary addition,it will provide financial support –even if a family has also received ahousing grant from the BancoHipotecario de la Vivienda. For moreinformation, call 202-4000.IMAS also gives aid to parents withlimited resources whose children are inschool. Applicants must fill out a formand show they are in poverty or extremepoverty. Qualifying parents can receivea monthly education subsidy of ¢10,000(approximately $20) a month per childfor the 10 months of the school year, aslong as the child stays in school.

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