#Mots-clés : Dernière mise à jour le 7 June 2019


MEXICOHistory of the Cities – Heritage

Many cities that were founded by the Spaniards. The old town was given the name ‘Centro Historico’ while neighborhoods are ‘barrios’ newer neighborhoods are called “colonias.”

In the early twentieth century, 90% of the population still lived in rural areas. In 1960 the proportion urban – rural areas has been reversed. This has had some impact on the mode of urbanization in Mexico.

With over 20 million inhabitants, the metropolitan area of the Valley of Mexico is one of the most populated regions in the world, with economic, political, religious, historical and cultural fundamental to the core countries. The streets and squares of what has been there more than five centuries the great Tenochtitlan, were witnesses of the most important events of the Mexican people.

Mexico is a true megalopolis that is still affected by a phenomenon of urban sprawl.

Urban Housing

Rural Housing


Right to Housing

Since 1983 – Article 4 of the Constitution:

Every family has the right to decent and adequate housing. The law shall establish the tools and support needed to achieve this goal.

Source: CETIM (publication COHRE)

Consult: “El Derecho has Vivienda en México. Balance Instrumentación Recomendaciones de las del Relator of the UN sobre el Derecho a una Vivienda adecuada. 2000-2008”

It is interesting to note that Mexico is the first country, in 1917, enshrined in its Constitution art. 23 the concept of social function of property. However, it seems that over the years, the original wills are weakened and this article does not allow to effectively advance the right to housing in the country.

Forced Eviction

Land Rights

Land Grabbing

Vulnerable Groups

Some interesting Practices


The first housing cooperative, the most famous is the one located in Mexico City and called Cooperative Palo Alto. Workers have settled near the mining and settled in makeshift housing. At the closing of the mines (’70), it was decided to sell the land well located property developers to install a luxury residential area. Former workers oppose the expulsion and argue their occupation of the land for over 30 years. In 1972, they won the right to stay in that territory and begin to build their homes. We can highlight the sometimes paradoxical role of developers who helped the people to retain their land, hoping to end an internal collapse of the organization. This organization, created very quickly called COPEVI: it unites the structure and actions of people. This experiment is still ongoing, is characterized by several innovations: it is the first housing cooperative registered with the Federal District of Mexico – it was the first to be based on collective ownership – an organization (FONVICOOP) collects donations and funds because people can not receive direct funding hormi building materials. Source: Case Study of the HIC network

An Housing Act about housing cooperatives was enacted by Mexican presidents, legislation should encourage the establishment of cooperatives for the inhabitants. However, two important factors effectively prevent the development of housing cooperatives:

  • Only consumer cooperatives were legalized, while social movements wanted production cooperatives can also be used, in order to promote the social production of habitatConceptual framework and publications HIC Network
  • Delays implementation are extremely long. Some popular movements continue to believe that despite these delays, cooperatives are the best way to housing, while others believe that we should not continue in the ‘cooperative movement’.

According to Professor Yves Cabannes, there are two types of cooperatives: mutual aid cooperatives (construction) for the poor and cooperatives prior savings for those who are a little easier. In all cases, the cooperative solution does not affect the poorest populations.

Source: Video of the IAI at the World Assembly of Inhabitants 2011


Currently in Mexico, there is a drive towards political reform and a change in legal status of the city, enabling further progress to defend the rights of the people and strengthen local government and delegations as an autonomous entities. It is ultimately to increase the capacity of metropolitan coordination. In Mexico, there is a Charter of the City of Mexico for the right to the city, interesting both in its development process and its content. Its development process took place between 2007 and 2010, in a broad public debate.

This instrument aims to address the root causes and manifestations of exclusion: economic, social, territorial, cultural, political and psychological. It is designed as a social response, point against the city and merchandise expression of collective interest. This is undoubtedly a complex approach that requires articulate human rights issues in their full design (civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental) than democracy in its various dimensions (representative , distributive and participatory).

Beyond the dreams and founding principles, the Charter has the merit of proposing concrete measures and public policy commitments to be assumed by members of society. Here is a small sample relevant:

  • Inhibiting property speculation and adopt urban standards for a fair distribution of costs and benefits generated by the urbanization process, capturing the special pensions (gains) generated by public investment in favor of social programs that guarantee right to land and housing, and stimulate the social production of habitat;
  • Recognize the role of the “informal economy” in the fight against social exclusion, with the granting of legal and tax that takes into account the legitimate interests of those who practice status and to prevent their exploitation by third;
  • Train and support with public funds and tax incentives cooperatives and other social enterprises that promote popular and solidarity economy companies;
  • Preserve productive rural areas, conservation areas and wooded areas, strengthening the productive and economic capacity of communities and curbing speculation focused on the change of land use;

Backgrounder: Citego – For more information, contact: Lorena Zarate

  • COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT URBAN : Groups of slum dwellers in Mexico City are invited to propose development projects nearby. Following a selection process, the local government says residents organized the financing, construction and project management. this program strongly contributes to the consolidation of new participatory spaces, from which arise new community groups strengthen the organization within the district. This project is part of a Social Housing Production logic. For more information, visit the following website: and/or brochure produced on the subject by Urbamonde : /file/Brochure%20PSH%2002_WEB.pdf
  • PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING : After limited attempts in Mexico City, Itztapalapa PB became, in 2010 when the process started, the first full-scale experience in one of the most populous boroughs in the federal district (2 million people). One innovative aspect of the experience is the links established with local development .plans: PB became a management tool to implement these. The experience was the stepping-stone for the citizens’ participation law that mainstreamed PB through all the boroughs of the Federal District. To know more about the Participatory Budgeting concept or about the report made by Prof. Y. Cabannes about this (IIED 2014) :


Housing Market

Quality of Housing

The home improvement can be achieved with the help of grassroots organizations, promoting social production of habitat.


Informal Housing / Slum / Homeless


Social Housing


Major Mexican cities have big problems of air pollution. The annual number of deaths due to pollution is estimated at 40,000. The government has also set up a monitoring system called SIMAT. This pollution is of course linked to the heavy traffic, causing greenhouse gas emissions up to 80% of all of these products by Mexico gas.

Waste management – particularly urban waste – is particularly problematic in Mexico. The water management is also a major concern.

Bibliography & Sitography


Major Problems

Associations activists in Mexico are numerous. Cristina Rodriguez reflects his life as an activist woman empowerment process in which it participates (video made by Urban Popular University)

Video:Testimony of a militant

  • An excessive growth of major urban centers, resulting in increased costs of urbanization and serious in public policy outcomes;
  • Significant spatial segregation and a high index of injustices in access to urban goods and services;
  • A sharp deterioration in centers that are becoming increasingly obsolete;
  • Mobility problems: an inability on the part of urban networks and services to meet the greater demands always travel to urban centers;
  • A lack of green space and recreation;
  • Lack of infrastructure and services, particularly on health and education;
  • A lack of social housing and little space for informal meetings between neighbors;
  • A difficult context: environmental damage – intra-family violence – chronic disease – a lack of jobs

Claims and Demands

Some Social Movements

  • UCISV VER = an association working since 1984 in the areas of housing rights, with particular attention to the issue of women’s role and training of members. The project aims to improve habitat, urban living conditions and living standards of people living in the 80 illegal sites in the outskirts of Xalapa in Veracruz where housing conditions are bad and the area does not have services urban. UCISV VER & CENVI website
  • COPEVI = is a non-governmental organization that supports projects in low-income housing and was responsible for the technical assistance during various phases of the project, including the area of land to be negotiated, the construction of temporary houses clearing and preparing the land for construction, urban planning and architecture for the project, the design of construction elements and processes, organization of self-construction process, supervision of manufacturers paid and finally, financial mechanisms that integrate with other community payments. COPEVI