In El Salvador, half of the population (53.65%) of the dwellings have a deficit in terms of infrastructure, basic services and security and 40% of households do not own their own home.
The Cooperativa de Vivienda por Ayuda Mutua "Raíces de R.L." was born in the year 2021 as an alternative to reach out to establish communities and generate the conditions for women to have access to housing.
The cooperative has the vision of creating a diverse, inclusive, humanistic, ecological and safe habitat; strengthening a culture of peace, and promoting sustainable human development to improve the quality of life of women.
Melissa Córdova, president of the cooperative, says that Raíces was born in the search to create community from and for women and their families; it was a matter of networking, of believing in the model of the Cooperativa de Vivenda por Ayuda Mutua, CVAM, as a viable alternative for accessing housing.
Raíces promotes the active participation of women, spaces free of violence, educating ourselves, dialoguing, respecting life in all its expressions; generating support networks in self-care, in the economic, emotional and accompaniment part that we women need so much.
After a process of membership consolidation and training in cooperativism, it obtained its legal constitution in December 2022 and is the first mutual aid housing cooperative founded by women.
In El Salvador, access to housing is complex and requires high incomes, in this case for women who are not in the formal sector of the economy, who work independently and with fluctuating incomes. According to the General Directorate of Statistics and Censuses, DIGESTIC, in 2019 the average income of 90% of Salvadoran households is US$453.23.
This is insufficient to afford a house in the metropolitan area of San Salvador, whose average price is around US$150,000 and the monthly credit payment reaches US$1,500, according to data from the Superintendence of Competition in 2021.
The numbers and the situation of gender inequality is much more difficult, this, together with the limited access that women have historically had to patrimony; for women, not having their own home increases the risk of experiencing patrimonial and/or economic violence and generates dependency in relationships that can affect their integrity.
The cooperative works from a participatory approach to planning, based on mutual aid, using management strategies, savings and income generation for the housing project, with a self-sustainable vision that combines skills, talents, diverse training and lifestyles that make the members complementary, so that this dream can become a reality.
In 2023, the goal of Raíces is to manage and save for the land, which will be an important step to start the construction of the houses.
According to data from the Instituto Salvadoreño de Fomento Cooperativo, INSAFOCOOP, as of 2022 there were 37 registered housing cooperatives for mutual aid, at the Central American level there are around a thousand housing cooperatives with the model of social housing with principles of solidarity, mutual aid and self-management.
- source: Habitat for Humanity.