Photo via Urgente 24

Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta today announced a plan to urbanize Villas 31 and 31 bis — shantytowns, for lack of a better word, located in the neighborhood of Retiro — and officially integrate them into the City of Buenos Aires. Infobae reported that in order to finance the initiative, the Larreta administration will sell a part of the City’s shooting range in Nuñez and intends to get a US $170 million loan from the World Bank as well.

The initiative is called Treinta y Todos (“Thirty and Everyone”) and makes reference to the Larreta administration’s intention to provide the villa’s residents with access to the same public services as the rest of the City’s population. In an event taking place in the villa today, Larreta explained that the project has three main goals: improve education, health and labor. Let’s briefly break these down:

  • Education: this is perhaps the most ambitious project, as Larreta announced his administration will move its Education Ministry into the neighborhood. The new ministry will be built on a plot of land that has been bought from State-owned oil company YPF, unsurprisingly known as barrio YPF in the villa. It’s unclear whether people actually live in that part of the villa and, if they do, whether they will be displaced from their homes. The initiative also outlines the building of two kindergartens, two primary schools, a high school and an institute for adults who haven’t finished high school and would like to. There are currently no public schools of any kind in the villa.
  • Health: in an attempt to put an end to the villa’s most pressing sanitary needs, Larreta said his administration “will pave roads, install public lights and build sewers.” Another step towards integrating the villa contemplates relocating the Illia highway, a part of which currently runs through the neighborhoods. “We will turn that part into a park so people can enjoy it,” tweeted Larreta. The thousands of families living under the highway will be relocated to the YPF neighborhood.
  • Labor: “We will create a center for work development so business people and entrepreneurs can take courses and receive advice,” the proposal reads.

Villa 31, one of the oldest shantytowns in the country, was created by the City Government as a result of the housing problems that resulted from the 1929 Great Depression. Ever since, its population has exponentially grown and now numbers over 43,000 inhabitants who live in some 10,000 poorly built buildings, which sometimes reach up to six stories.