The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU contribute to debates on COVID-19 in precarious settlements and social housing in Latin America

4 May 2020

DPU's Dr. Catalina Ortiz was invited as academic advisor of the Urban Housing Practitioners Hub led by Cities Alliance, UN Habitat,  InterAmerican Housing Group, Habitat for Humanity.


The main aim of her involvement was to produce conceptual notes, present and debate with authorities about the impact and responses of the COVID-19 crisis on informal settlements and social housing.

The Urban Housing Practitioners Hub or UHPH is an open platform for the exchange, gathering and dissemination of practices, knowledge, and stakeholders working around housing and urban habitat in Latin America and the Caribbean. It combines the digital space with face-to-face interactions so that those working in the sector can connect with each other and access information and practical solutions in real time. Along with Mercedes Di Virgilio, professor from University of Buenos Aires, Dr. Catalina Ortiz participated in two key events called LAVs.

Two LAVs were held: one on April 10, 2020 targeting Central America multilevel actors in an open event held by SISCA - System for Social Integration in Central America, were more than 700 people participated; and the other on April 22, 2020 hosted by MINURVI -The ministries and High authorities of Housing and Urban Development in Latin America and the Caribbean-  that was only for the exchange among ministries and delegates from The LAVs focused on the premises for tackling the emergency and the set of good practices to generate rigorous criteria of identification and targeting vulnerable population and ideas to align the short term action with ideas for the regional plan for recovery. 

The key messages referred to: 1) Homogeneous responses of lockdowns to address the emergency in precarious settlements are neither viable nor sustainable and context sensitive approaches need to be tailored; 2)  Champion a regional alliance to promote slum upgrading as part of the recovery based on green / low carbon infrastructure and care systems; 3) A regional consensus on stopping evictions and moratorium in mortgages. These events and concept notes were the key input in the cross learning spaces among high level authorities in the region.