C A S A S G E O

Urbanization hit this country like a train; at the moment Mexico has the same amount of cities over one million people than the US does... despite having a third of the population.

In order to support the massive growth of Mexican cities, these funny looking lots of identical houses popped up across the country in the last two decades. Specially in regions with fast growth or cheap land. Named “Casas Geo” after the recently bankrupt developer “Geo” these look like social housing and in some cases such is true.

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You would think that a country with 5,000,000 empty houses would be one without homelessness or even irregular settlements, but sadly it is not the case.

These lots were built with little care about services, access to employment, or even considering how inhospitable the cheap land under it was. This lot in Leon is not a big offender since it’s only in the outskirts of the city, but lots far from Mexico City but supposedly part of the metropolitan area, are.

As a consequence, people moved out of these lots and into irregular settlements closer to their sources of income, at times they put themselves and the environment in danger. When it comes to Mexico City, irregular settlements have improper sanitation, little or no access to electricity, and security services. This also in violation of any building code for seismic activity.

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These settlements are mostly placed adjacent to recently gentrified areas like Santa Fe, but in protected areas that are not open to regular development.

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This 2011 map shows irregular settlements in protected areas, in the last eight years it has gotten significantly worse.

Social housing is a complex topic, and one that governments are sometimes incapable, or unwilling, to understand. It has been something Mexico has struggled with for years, be it the failure of Geo, or the degradation of Tlatelolco, and even the bizarre attempt at a suburb with Ciudad Satelite.

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