Only in LAG: Homeless in One-Million Home

Only in LAG: Homeless in One-Million Home

Every afternoon, the homeless man above walks slowly towards this corner house in Antigua Guatemala, one block away from the Parque Central, and right at one of the doorways he brings himself down to sleep while being cuddled by the warm rays of the late afternoon sun.

Guatemala is a country of extremes. Often, extreme beauty and extreme violence can be found at the same time or at the same place or both. In a country where most of the population can not afford economical housing, houses, apartments and condos go on sale regularly for $200,000 (Q1,600,000), $300,000 (Q2,400,000) and sometimes even the one-million dollar mark (8 million Quetzales). Such is life in Guatemala where the monthly minimum wage is about Q1,700 ($212.50) and many people do not even earn the minimum wage salary.

Guatemala is among the poorest countries of the Americas with more than half of the population living in poverty. Particularly acute is the problem of inadequate housing.

Most of the population living in poverty resides in make-shift housing made of corn stalk walls, dirt floors, and roof shelters comprised of garbage materials (cardboard and plastics) and corrugated iron or wood. These living circumstances are the threat to the health and survivability of families. (source: Construcasa.org brochure)

It is sad to read introductory paragraphs like the above in most brochures put out by the ONG headquartered in beautiful Antigua Guatemala. Certainly, life can be tough in La Antigua Guatemala, chosen as top city to travel and recently declared the first digital city in Central America.

Ironically, according to ConstruCasa the cost of a basic house is approximately $3,500 (Q28,000). How many economical houses could be built with the cost of one of those houses listed in the second paragraph above? Oh, extremes I tell you!

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