Some Thoughts on the Puerto Rico Housing Shortage

I read a disturbing report by Antonio R. Gomez, Primera Hora? Puerto Rico, ( report in Spanish ) regarding the employment in Puerto Rico. The title says the majority of Puerto Ricans live off of welfare. According to his report a small percentage of the population supports the majority of the island. The economics is such that one third of the islands workers are responsible for carrying the tax burden of the rest.

In essence what Gomez is referring to is the welfare state that has existed on this island for many decades and continues to grow at an alarming rate.

The local government depends on an annual budget from the U.S. that goes into the millions. According to the Secretary of Employment, Román Velasco of Puerto Rico half the population works while the other half depends on them.

The rate of worker participation is not sufficient. On the one hand the private sector has not provided the needed incentives while on the other the welfare system does not provide incentives to seek out work.  The statistics speak for themselves. In 2006 there were 1,253,000 people working. The population for the same period was 3.9 million indicating that only 32.1% of the Puerto Ricans were employed.

After viewing this and much more I immediately thought of an article I posted a while back regarding the burgeoning land developing that continues at an alarming rate and which, for the most part focuses on homes starting at $400,000.00+! I ask myself, “Who are these homes being built for”? The developers have the same figures from the Labor Department and know that two thirds of the islanders live off of welfare. They know that the working third are strained to the limit as is. So who precisely do they have in mind as buyers when they strip away acres of land to build $400,000.00+
homes in walled communities? It surely can’t be the working third!

Surely something is beginning to smell in this whole scenario and I imagine you smell it too! Land Developers are capitalistic merchants if nothing else and they would not sink millions into dead-end projects and less so when one looks at the housing slump going on across the U.S. I ask myself, “ where is it that THEY are getting THEIR information from“?  Who are the prospective buyers to be? If the past is an indicator, the projects that matched or surpassed these were being sold to non-Puerto Ricans from the states and other countries.

It is astounding to think that with the housing shortage that we have here for the locals, millions if not billions are being spent to accommodate the rich but what of the poor?

Something that was not mentioned in the report at the start of this post was the fact that many of the poor are trapped in a vicious circle. If they get gainful employment that pays anything decent then they are no longer eligible for government housing, which in turn means they have to pay high rents, which in turn plunges them back into poverty and all the life changes that come with it. It is no wonder many opt not to get work since doing so means in effect that they will be penalized. I have heard that very same answer from many locals.
The only time many of the poor get a break at decent housing is under plan 8 where the government pays the rent (which the poor could not afford).  The same applies here as well. If they obtain any decent paying jobs, out they go!
When I say decent I refer to the sub-standard wage levels of the island and not the modern wages being paid in many cities in the states. Why do you think outside companies come here in the first place, the scenery? Though lately even that scenario has been changing as the merchants close up shop and go to lands where $5.00 an hour will get them 5 workers instead of one! The computer techs back in the states have found this out with all the out-sourcing of computer jobs to foreign lands.

Like I always say, if you don’t believe me ask the locals! Don’t bother with the local papers since they are like many of the corporate papers of the states that are biased in favor of the government. Thank God for independent papers without which we would not get the truth.

One Response to “Some Thoughts on the Puerto Rico Housing Shortage”

  1. Livette Says:

    Nice blog!

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