Mutual Aid Housing for San Juan

Philip Lawrence Manson Goldberg

Thesis Advisers: W. Crane, P. Malo,


The problem of housing the poor in developing societies is studied in terms of future needs in order to propose a policy program of use to planners. A housing deficit that is increasing despite present construction rates is defined in terms of limited undeveloped land near employment, increasing population, and rising living standards. San Juan's squatter settlements are selected as a model of unusually vivified social climate coupled with extreme physical deterioration. Here, savings institutions and governmental agencies have failed to lower financing costs sufficiently for industry to provide the poorest people with adequate shelter they can afford. Is is demonstrated that public housing has not solved the housing problem in a asocial context because designers and commissioners do not understand the life style and physical needs of tenants.

A policy Program for mutual aid construction is presented. In the approach, rural families organize teams to build their dwellings and buy construction materials through new savings organizations. The chief prerequisites for mutual aid in a specific situation is that the ratio of material to labor costs be high.

Current technological developments including a structural system costing only $45 per square meter, should make mutual aid more practical in urban areas by shortening construction time.

Pride in home ownership, training in construction skills, and naturally evolved neighborhoods prove the thesis that mutual aid is the most promising solution for housing the poor in developing societies. Financial burden on the public is minimized, and the government can control municipal expansion by retaining land ownership.

in high density areas, a basic, multi-story frame can be finished by inhabitants owning units in a condominium arrangement. A design of this type, La Puntille, is presented as a prototype.