Housing group plans large protest in early September

August 18, 2014
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The National Housing Forum, which groups 53 citizen organizations across the country, announced a national protest slated for Sept. 2 due to “the government’s lack of action” on promises to provide housing for the poor.

In a press release, the group blasted “government repression” over an incident last Friday, when National Police removed a group of protesters gathered at President Luis Guillermo Solís’ residence in northeastern San José. The demonstrators were from Alajuelita, a suburb south of the capital. During the protest, police arrested 16 of the group’s leaders after they refused to leave.

Members of the forum, who say the Solís administration lacks a clear policy on housing issues, are demanding approval of several measures currently under study at the National Housing Mortgage Bank (BANHVI).

They also say the administration’s delay in appointing BANHVI managers and other housing officials has caused “instability” in the housing sector. BANHVI, forum members noted, has a budget surplus, and those funds should be used for new housing projects.

Manuel Salinas, a leader at Friday’s protest, said the president of the National Institute for Housing and Urban Development, Sonia Montero, has failed to address the ongoing problems.

Referring to the Solís administration, Salinas said in a press release, “They’ve been in office for three months now and they haven’t yet appointed all of the BANHVI managers. Also, they failed to follow gender equality laws by appointing six men and just one woman.”

Salinas said plans for a large protest could change if President Solís would meet with the group to discuss their concerns.

The protest announcement was made as Solís prepares to deliver a report on his first 100 days in office, scheduled for Thursday evening.

Solís took office in May during a month-long teacher’s strike prompted by a problematic new computer system at the education and finance ministries that delayed the payment of public teachers’ salaries.

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