To Move Or Not To Move: Opportunities and challenges for low-income households to build a house in León Southeast, Nicaragua
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To combat illegal land occupation the municipalities of Utrecht (the Netherlands) and León (Nicaragua) set up an overall urban development plan for León, finally resulting in the León Southeast (LSE) project. With this project the municipality offers cheap plots to low-income households which, after repaying it, build their houses through self-help housing in newly urbanised neighbourhoods, prepared by sites-and-services by the municipality. Though relatively successful, after almost a decade a third of the households have not built a house yet. In addition, there are also uninhabited, unfinished and demolished houses. Central to this thesis is to understand why households have not moved to the new neighbourhood where they own a plot. The project offers a wide array of opportunities to low-income households in order to get access to plots and self-help housing, including low-cost plots; sites-and services; cooperation housing NGOs; and access to financial and technical assistance. However, even with all actors involved, in many cases low-income households have such a low and vulnerable socio-economic status that they cannot cope with external shocks, leaving them financially incapable to build a house or unable to maintain living in the house they already built. Additionally, self-help housing initiatives have decreased, leaving households too dependent on NGOs.