doi 10.4067/S0718-83582009000200002


Housing for displaced population in Colombia. Public policy and law enforcement recommendations


Carlos Alberto Torres Tovar1, Johanna Eloísa Vargas Moreno2

1 Architect and Master in Urban Planning. Associate Professor and Researcher. School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Research Institute in Habitat, City and Territory. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Editor "Bitácora Urbano Territorial" Journal.

2 Colombia. Politícal Scientistand Regional Urban Plaining Specialist, Researcher. Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

Abstract: This article characterizes the forced displacement population housing and habitat problem conditions in Colombia within the social and political context of the past three decades. Colombia’s internal confl ict has forced 4,628,895 Colombians to be displaced from their homes; this phenomenon is mainly experienced in 9 cities and 10 regions. It identifi es the problem’s peculiarities within the housing and habitat public policy´s general conflicts and its consequences for low income families; as it highlights public policy limited response to population displacement. It presents a systematization of the main defi ning aspects of the problem from the economic, political, social, cultural, territorial and regional perspective. It includes possible alternative solutions to the need for a right of housing and habitat needs for displaced population in Colombia. The article ends with a brief reference to the recent ruling (January 2009) of the Constitutional Court through the Tracking ruling No. 008, 2009, which includes various aspects mentioned in this article.



"In Colombian cities the gap keeps growing; and void between the ones who have and those who have not is even more vertiginous, differences have become more evident; though still in contact with one another as we live in the same territory. The displaced population arrives to spaces already occupied, intervened and transformed where polluted fumes welcome them within the poor’s survival struggle to hide, conceal the deprived ones, though also to expose them to the sacrifi ce of poverty life, in places where poverty eradication still is through the physical one".
The authors



Politics lay between the thin line of that desirable and possible. To defi ne what is achievable to dignify human condition, and the democratization of its relationship is an urgent task intrinsic to society itself. Notwithstanding the acute differences, exclusions and violations in which Colombia’s society possible future has been defi ned that has made democracy search task, and it is part of each member of society responsibility, into a heroic even utopian deed.

It has not been easy to set goals to fi nd possible, feasible alternatives that could become housing and habitat public policies in a country where the State has reduced options’ alternatives different to the ones given by the market and evaluations from this perspective; though within the existing limitations is more important to keep searching them as long as life and the right to fully live it becomes a reality for every single person who lives in Colombia.

Through this search urban and regional centers have consolidated the last 50 years. It lacks proper guidelines that include suitable urban planning and public policies construction that agrees with the urban growing process and the different aspects that are part of it that in Colombia’s reality outstands the forced population displacement due to the internal armed conflict4.

The conflict’s aggravation during the last two decades has transformed Colombian cities growing dynamic. The migration processes due to farming and livestock production changes, which uses out dated production methods that have led economical development concentration in cities as well as a number of the life improvement guaranties. The national urban dynamic has moved to cities’ resulting in over population caused by forced displacement immediate consequence to armed confl ict in the people’s place of origin that produces moving fl ows in almost every part of Colombian territory

This problem adds up to the natural urban growing development dilemma caused by inappropriate public policies framework capable of foreseeing its adequate growing. This has kept the historical dual growing constant; on one hand the urban territory formal planning confi guration and on the other the informal one as city’s construction form that portrays in squatting. This lack of policies has become, by itself, one of the urban confl ict main reasons, as it allows by anomy the problem existence, continuance and development that keeps adding and mutating to new realities and problems.

The displaced population arrives to cities to “research” life by their own means. All urban confl icts derived from this particular social formation in our country. Housing is one of the fi rst thing they tackle and not many adequate answers arise, producing greater poverty in the existing housing conditions to the “new neighbors” as well as complicates the global organization dynamic and urban planning.

It is better to provide adequate answers to the problem that come out of proper researches on the subject and real political exercise that deal with the problem, in this case housing and habitat in Colombia5 and the rights of the displaced population.

These processes, development and results will be covered in this article in which the relevant aspect of this problem will be described as well as their right reinstatement alternatives for the displaced population. It ends naming the elements that have heen recognized hy the Colombian Constitutional Court as relevant to the current state ofthings overcoming process ECI court ruling T 025 20046 ratify hy ruling sentence N° 008 de 20097.


Problem and its context

The displace population suffers many rights violation in daily terms, and the housing rights hecome key as other rights have heen address through the existing rights to education and health that the displaced population do have its benefits and guarantees especially focus in their vulnerable, precarious situation.


Mobilization. Colombia's flag with running silhouettes that run from the existing internal conflicts placed during displaced population mobilization demand ing their Rights in Bogota city (2008).
Photography source: Johanna Vargas, 6 marzo de 2008, Bogota .


This puts in the spot light the State incapacity to develop institutional management at any level to find the necessary tools to reestablish this right which many Colombians lack beyond the existing displaced population group.

Starting from the construction need analysis proposed by the displaced population accumulated housing deficit; an analytical development is proposed to understand the relevant aspects dimensión, its context and possihle alternatives reach.

The first aspects relates to Colombian politícal and social context, the second one to displacement due to the conflict context framework, the third one relates to the main housing and habitat problems in Latin America and Colombia, the jourth one refers to Colombia's housing public policies up to now, fijth one deals with the current housing and habitat policies main components characteristics; and the last one based on the built characterization some of the displaced population situation features in Colombia.



Colombia's structural crisis is nothing new, though it is always necessary to remember it. The current problems historical configuration must be in each and every attempt to characterize the moment, and even more if we are trying to look for alternatives and solutions in one or all the aspects that are involved and define the crisis. Paraphrasing Emilio Pradilla Cobos:

"(...) The great regional and urhan problems originated hy capitalism policies in Colombia and generalized urbanization (...) were not solved by the capital accumulation pattern with the prevailing post war state interventionism. Themo del crisis,the abruptneoliber al structur al adjustments since 1991 another accumulation regime midwife and the country's asymmetric and subordinated insertion in globalization has generated new territorial contradictions that add to the old ones." 8

The starting points is Colombia social and politícal confiict analysis as the structural axis to the housing problem lived hy the population, perspectives that can not he overlooked when solutions are searched. Its revisión must allow gctting out ofthe conflict's pigeon hole that has hoth sides in the exclusive armed confiict arena definition tof ump into a reading that includes economic and politícal interests promoted hy not necessarily armed actors, though with guiding; land occupation and eviction strategies definition capacities, among which natural resources ana bio—fuels multinational outstand s as main protagonists ana the narco—trafficking mafias shelter hy hroad politícal sectors in the State institutions ana regional, national ana local government officials.

Within this framework Alvaro Urihe Velez government has achieved hetter state guerilla strategies financial and politícal support commitments with the US in the "Plan Colombia", "Plan Patriota", "Plan Puebla Panamá" that clearly shows multinational intervention in the war of the southern countries of the continent, led by Colombia. Within this framework the forced displacement problem has broaden its magnitude, complexity and urban territory occupation percentage.

Although the problem derives from the politícal conflict that is tearing out our country it transíales into cities as an economic and social problem as urban reality exeludes and limits the social network construction among others labor contaets, giving no choice but misery and in some cases even indigence.

Approximately 8.93%9 of the total displaced population in Colombia comes to the city forced to find a safe place to protect their lives and family after being expelled by treats, death and /or family member recruitment (especially men), accusations among other circumstances.

"The reasons that motivates displacement in order of frequency: Direct threats (82.2%) related to recruitment Head of household and /or children older than 11 12 years old forced recruitment; army or the illegal armed group collahoration accusations that has passed hefore through their land ; resisting, hecause they can not meet wüh the extortion fee (called "vaccine") either money or production resources; hy head of household, children or other close family member forced disappearance; neighbors murder; fear of fighting and the area clearance by one of the armedsides. Indirect threats (27.8%) which are related to people wüh: Combat, tense situations, public order disturbance, massacres, murders and disappearanees in near by places." 10

There has heen many attention calis done during the crisis the last decade either hy the national or international order after ruling Law 387 de 199711related to displaced population State responsihility and the forced displacement phenomena in general. Nonetheless the conflict structural roots linked to the aboye mentioned, economic investments and exploitation processes that have heen guided and deepened as the only possihility for social development.

This adds up to the State strategy to searchpeace through war that has translated into increasing all type of resources to guarantee the control and clash mechanisms strengthening (intelligence, increasing number of soldiers, technology introduction in the conjrontation among other elements) helping territory occupation and management depending on the model's promoted interests. The polarization of the conjronting actors involved and its repercussion in the whole Colombian society in terms of the ir support to one side or the other which has limited and refused to acknowledge other possible options to overcome the conflict.

"(...) for different reasons, there is not guarantee Úiat the dialogue process is going to lead to overcome paramilitary groups on the other hand it is certain a great scale impunity operation will he produced with no guarantee that truth will he said in order to dismantle parliamentarypolitícaland economicstructures nor any integral reparation process that would fully restore their loses to the victims"12

The displacement alternatives in this context must recognize the need to address the policies general guidance to push suhstantial changes from a different point of view than the ones taken up to now, and not only through "assistant aid", that allows conditions to develop and productivity that benefits the whole population.


Displaced population invades Medellin. Displaced population group from Uraba Antiqueno which squatted public land in Medellin City. A neighborhood claiming its right to descent housing in 1998. Two days after this picture was taken, they were evicted by public force.
Photography source: Carlos Torres Tovar, 1998.



The politícal, economic and social reforms processes central axisfoster by the neo liberal model has been the territory reordering where the disputes for the territory have been a constant. The inexistence of a Territorial Regulation Organic Law LOOT13 is due to the state's negligente and the lack of social pressure to push the law. This has allowed that the market and private sector agents regulate it.

Anarchy and permanent struggle to live in unjavorahle conditions, with no protection guarantee from the State hecomes the way everyday lije regulation originated or determined hy politícal, economic, cultural and social dynamics that hardly have anything to do with the politícal administrative order legally established.

For example the departments14 have heen hlurring as territorial regulation administrative identities and their competence to make an impact in the population's dynamics that moves through municipal and /or regional logic15. The regions that do not have legal structure to back them up; are now, as they were before; where population re ordering dynamic takes place determined by the conflict.

"(...) the relationship conflict and displacement regional test invalidates the official thesis that says that more troops present, per se guarantees hetter safety conditions for the population. The municipalities with the largest displaced population are in fact the ones that hold the military operations where interweave old and new confrontation tactics characteristical of this kind or guerrilla wars which results in new causes of forced displacement and deterioration of the civil population guarantees."16

It is important to look at the demographic displacement characterization indexes to reveal the process in territorial displacement and regional configurations search for any kind of alternative to solve this problem.

"The population exile is an existing phenomenon in every single municipality in Colombia. 1,098 municipalities do it and only 80.6% (885) of them receives the population17. It adds up to this percentage the demographic impact index, that shows the different territories and demographic structures gain or loss of population."18 As it shows in the map.




The concentration of war exile is mainly in the North and South East of the country on the other hand reception keeps within North West and South, West also has a percentage mostly in the city of Bogota . In this displacement process 3 stages can he distinguished. First, the immediate one or the near—hy places done, the second one to the near hy municipalities or to the head municipalities and the third one to hig cities. This logic showed that between 2000—2004 60% of the population displaced to the inland s of the same region.

The emerging regions are considered those ones inland where the 3 stages are detected and the greatest displacement flow shows. These regions are: Uraha, middle Magdalena, Central and ean, Hills of Maria, flat Piedemonte, Venezuelan border, banana Zone, Central Pacific and Ecuadorian horder.

This regional dynamics shows that these regions inland displacement moves towards municipality head or to Colombia's main cities. and ean region to Bogota with the largest percentage of the total in the region with 26.5% — banana zone shows Santa Marta with 43%; in Hills of Maria, Sincelejo where most of the population goes with 39%; Ecuadorian border region, Pasto gets most of the population with a 13.3%; Venezuelan border Cucuta with 36.1%. Middle Magdalena, Bucaramanga with 11.9%, central Pacific region Medellin as the main city with 25%, in South Pacific, Cali with 34.6%. Piedemonte gets most of it displaced population in Villavicencio with 38.5% and last Uraba mostly attracts them to Medellin with a 30.84%.

This information shows 9 cities that can be taken as the social policies target to reestablish the displaced population's rights as well as to build development networks that articulate the process to the country's inland with real regional impact.

Another elements that the displaced population demographic territorial placement and demographic displacement analysis shows, it is part of the conflict's cause itself, among which outstand s displacement caused hy land accumulation which directly relates to the ahoye mentioned related to economic motivations to reorganized the territory articulate the process to the country's inland with real regional impact.

Although the land accumulation is hy itself violent, the distinction made here, allows showing that in most regions, 7 out of 10, displacement cause is due to land accumulation. It is ohvious then how the counter reform process has very negative consequences for the population whose land is expropriated, in many cases land that inherited hy generations, to he aliens in their own land .

The conflict's comprehensive scope is every doy more evident in the governmental interventions, nevertheless the "no formal" important national construction dynamics episodes have out stood the regions important role as how they have structured the conflict as well as many other social relationships with the territory.

Within this context it is key that regional configurations and territory occupation methods are taken in consideration when new policies are formulated and defining what process could recognize the population's new realities avoiding as much as possible clashes and traumatism between the displaced population and the existing residence in these new places they have settled to hecome one more of them among the thousand that live in the city.



The latest urban growing stages in Latin America has been led by searching rational construction planning through urban planning regulations, master plans, strategic plans among other initiatives to harmonize urban territory structure and management. Nonetheless this has not produced the expected results, on the contrary social construction growing has developed in fragmented, and unstructured ways due to the economic models imposed not taking in consideration Latin America and Carihhean current context reality.

These development models are usually unhalanced which do not huild equity and try to get it through regulations just finding numherless tensions and problematic hehaviors within the cities', inhahitants, tensions that show acuteinequalitiesamongits inhahitants. This tensions result in individual search for answers to their housing and habitat needs in the territory which usually ends by population selj housing production as the only alternative due to the impossibility to meet existing formal market demand s.

Colombia's case is not any different from the rest of Latin America, although it has its own particular characteristics derived from the internal conflict that shows in the cities both planning as well as territorial control terms to settle also in goods and services demand s enlargement due to the new displaced population arriving to the cities.

Have human settlement policies existed in Colombia? How can we answer this question in this context?


Patio Bonito Neighborhood. Displaced chüdren in the south periphery in Bogota City D. C.
Photography source: Johanna Vargas Moreno, 2008


As most of the aspects that are part of the social irvter actiorv, housing issues have not developed the coherent deep necessary approach to solve housing needs. Many of the public sector processes deal with this problem and had only mild advances lacking integral and long term structure policies.

"Only partial urbanization solutions have been proposed in human beings settlements cases beforeassessingthepeople'sowninterestrelated to these transformations. They havejocused in theprof ects'physical—spatial dimensions using them more as planning explorative formulas samples copiedjrom other countries as social demand s real alternatives than addressing the real needs of the population."

So we can soy that Colombia has not developed human settlement policies that satisjy the scope and answers needed to tackle the existing accumulated quantitative and qualitative deficit.

The negative answer to this question takes us to explain the real urban development phenomenon in Colombia and the housing and habitat role in it.

There are common elements with the region's housing and habitat problems, among them, the tendency to privilege quantity over quality problem solving policies; inadequate model implementation to the region's environment, geographic and context characteristics; lack of adequate citizen's participation mechanism; deteriorated urhan centers renovation and repopulation schemes to create compacted and less extended cities as it has heen up to now. This is mainly due to the lack of urhan planning and housing and habitat sector planning.

Pointing out new conflicts in the city means to start to recognizc the accumulated contradictions as well as the ones that are priorities and have not heen oble to be solved through the years. One of the m is the accessibility to housing and inhabitability which still are problems in Colombian cities.

It can be said the Colombian city model are marked by formal and informal urban design superposition articulated through consecutive street structure as well as utilities public services networks. The informal sector in that area still is up to now the great builder in Colombia and Latin America which is dynamic compared to the official sector low response level índex.

A city collective housing and habitat view must he done, one that takes in consideration urhan territory diversity and complexity as well as its informal growing that meets the formal ones in order to find the required solutions to the problem.

The future city challenge lies in housing and habitat collective construction puhlic policies linked to management and urhan regulation instruments that go heyondpaper and hecome part of the city's reality It has to develop an approach that sees them as equal and includes the current set ofcities context in its configuration as well as its implementation. The ohjective is to guarantee a common collective well heing and not merely particular single interest.



Displaced population housing has various features, among them urhan informality as a real alternative and the real problem hehind is the lack of regular income, some peculiarities of the displaced population, the usual prohlems related to Social Interest Housing access VIS19 and the Priority Interest Housing VIP20, real estate market and current housing policy.

Both histórical inexistent settlement policy and a clear rural or urban housing model are usual prohlems. The issue's magnitude and complexity has not heen properly addressed hy puhlic policies, they have not contrihuted to solved the generated prohlems and in VIS and VIP particular case, it has aggravated for low income people for different reasons among them, displaced population. This has heen reinforced since the 90's through State responsihility transjerred to private sector (market) in this area.

The VIS and VIP prohlems are complex as they do notjill the population required needs demand , so even less displaced population. A precarious of jer is availahle regaraless the multiple State Subsidies21 two or more subsidies are present to finance VIP and there is not guarantee of an appropriate, satisfactory, deserving solution. Among the defining factors in this situation is the land 's feasibility to be urbanized speculation value.


Between rural and urban. Inhabitants threaten by internal displacement in San Luis neighborhood in northeast periphery in Bogota D.C. picture
Photography source: Johanna Vargas, 2008.


The access to a housing unit, either VIS or VIP does not represent a final solution to the housing problem due to the fact that VIP (32mts2) produced does not guarantee habitability basic conditions. This situation leads to the currentformal housing informality that in order to be "solution" becomes once again a problem due to the lack ofprogressive development follow up.

This means that the State's subsidy is not enough for a proper housing unit which makes it even more difficult to meet with the legal requirements to hold the property's deed expenses that nowadays are more a tax rate. Although it is important to clarify that this costs are related to any kind of possible solution offered to the displaced population, this does not mean that it should he left to individual responsihility due to the displaced population critica! eondition. These expenses must he included in the State's possihle solution.

The difficulties generated hy the excessive legal papers, the current procedures and the impossihility to he suhjected to credit as they can not meet the financial institutions requirements to grant a credit such as income or credit's payment capacity limits even more formal housing access, reason why informal solutions have hecome the real displaced population alternative.

Displacement favors the cities' informal configuration, contrihuting to worsen hahitahility prohlematie eondition. To the historie poor people must he added the displaced ones which are only on the road to solve their "right to housing" and strictly speaking guarantee a roof to live .

It has to he acknowledged that the needfor a roof goes heyond the risk to he placed in the cities'periphery urhanhorder, and unsuitahle land to urhanizc with multiple vulnerahilities. Nevertheless ahoye these location conditions displaced population can improve their quality lije in terms ofutilities public services and collective amenities installed as well as allow constructing opportunities to access to economic resources, even ifit is by the means as what is called "rebusque" (research).

This type of solution allows the displace population to reproduce the subsistence conditions, as informal housing it is not a lodging and resting place, though aboye all a productive unit that allows generating income.

It must be pointed out that this alternative it is not new at all as informal human settlements are dated, in the Colombian case, since the latest XIX century though have a greater quantity relevance as in variety after the middle of last century that Colombian cities' urbanization process was energized. Early this century approximately 25% of the built cities' area is informal configured urban territory which is 30,145 hectare in the whole national territory.22

On the other hand the real estate market and the so called construction industry insist there are no proper conditions to meet these demand s, as no urban land is available, adding to the financial conditions difficulties which do not allow them obtaining the expected profitability.

From this point of view VIS and VP are always insufficient; there is not urban land to meet this demand as the available land is privilege for other type of more profitable activities. private sector and particularly the construction industry are not interested in VIS and even less VIP as they do not offer the desirable profitability, especially the last one. The real estate market curves show that this is only an option in those times capital concentration for high income housing production decreases. VIS and VIP has become the private sector "mattress" more than a strategic production alternative.

It is evident then that the current policy is not adequate and in the displaced population does not meet the Vital Basic related to housing. The displaced population housing policy translates in subsidies assignation to buy a VIP in the market, giving them the same treatment that the cities' historical poor population, making them compete for the same bag of resources.

Reducing housing policies to money subsidies (usually badly given), the State transfer the responsibility to the private sector that meets this assignment in terms oftheir own interest, many times contrary to the vulnerable population. The resources are not enough neither in quantity (value) nor opportunity (time) and the subsidies access does not solve the problem by itself. Even if everybody got a subsidy the problem is not solved as there is not enough housing offer for this type of low income housing.

On the other hand the quality of this housing offers depends on funding and due to this segment of the population precarious resources is an inadequate housing (floor structure problems, utilities difficult access and limited interior space for basic house functioning).

It real problem is a number of failures which is not the appropriate housing itself nor decent habitat access, but stable income generation for the reconstruction of the normal life processes and vital relationships everybody has. Under this perspective, displaced population do not have access to banking nor credit and ifthey have access to housing; then they have to produce enough income to he ahle to pay the deht, puhlic services and tax rates and every single expense a formal housing implies as it has heen mentioned.

On the other hand State housing subsidies assignation policy does not recognize the displaced population particularities such as:

On the other hand VIP offer does not consider rural housing characteristics. Ifit was similar to Family Farm Unit housing UAF23 it is by no means similar to the "" urban housing. The size of the displaced population housing (5.1 inhabitants per home24), it is larger than the average Colombian urban house size (3.9 inhabitants per home); space availability in the VIP does not take in consideration this aspect and fosters overcrowded and unsanitary ones. It does not take in consideration either regional or cultural characteristics that would allow different housing. VIP and VIS market offers stand ardizes production to a "type family" in relationship to the amount ofmoney available for each squared meter offered.


Only laughter. Displaced children in all the scale (national, regional and local) taken care by a La Esperanza neighborhood communitarian mother in Usme. Bogota D. C.
Photography source: Johanna Vargas, 2008.


Lastly it is necessary to remember that is not possible to match the aband oned property with a VIP housing solution in the city as family groups that lejt lana, jarms and /or houses is 73,4% of the total displaced population25. This shows that the slogan proponed hy the National Development Plan 2002 2006 "Colombia, a country of property owners"26 competes with reality as "Colombia is a country of expropriates". The displaced population had a property relationship, property possession or occupation in 88,9% of the cases and for that reason is not match able to the property value on rural land and its extension UAF in relationship to the urban property value and extensión VIP as it was previously mentioned.

The displacedfamilies (or households) benefit by State's housing subsidies correspond to 12,973 in 2002 to reach 52,154 in 2007 with a 2.8 billion pesos assigned.27



Based on the internal conflict problem's characterization, forced displacement and their difficulties to access to a decent home, as was mentioned before, a series of recommendations are made to take in consideration for possible public policy making to improve the previous weak State intervention to solve forced displacement situation and particularly the right ofhousing access and enjoyment.

Understand ing that having access to a decent housing, does not solve nor eliminates theneed to guarantee truth, justice, reparation and the right not to repeat the situation again.



To propose possihle alternatives to tackle the displaced population problem it is a necessary and urgentneed,neverthelessitisveryimportant to first produce a series of actions initiatives to find meeting points and correspondence between the prohlems characteristics and these actions in particular.

It is important to understand forced displacement as a structural element of the current internal conflict, armed conflict, framed hy Colombia social and politícal prohlems as it has heen previously mentioned. The alternatives proposed within this context cannot he overlooked orprovide welfarism as an answer, up to now the approach given.

It is essential that any approach taken centers its initiatives in the need to articulate the multiple social groups needs and bets as well as its solutions, among which it can he mentioned the internal conflict solution; the rights restitution; the displaced population, vulnerable and poor population dignity given hack; the access and enjoyment to education, health, social welfare, quality services, recreation among other to all the population as well as free expression and organization guaranteed.

"(...) it is important to stress the need to deeply articúlate the reparation to social reform processes that make sustainable the peace strategy."28

The guideline approach to policies and actions leading to solve each of these aspects has to distance from the prof ects and proposals' summative to the harmonization and elahoration of puhlic policies lead hy the State that would allow overcoming quantitatively and qualitatively the current states of affairs. A process that can only he possihle if there is enough politícal will of the conflict drivers, politícal and social agents, though mainly from the people who governs that should lead all the economic, politícal, environmental and socio—cultural transformations required.



At this level of ideas one of the main aspects to take in consideration is related to the critical assessment that nowadays involves the application of such highly focalized policies of welfare character through which the States have tried to solve the displaced population problem.

A problem that worsens when the focus process suhtracts resources from the social policies funds and /or other programs for people in vulnerable conditions orpoverty as it has been the case with the assigned resources to solved the displace population housing demand .

Marco Romero says that the State by saying no resources available, has been justifying the lack of effective policies, not making any other effort to guaranteed other financing sources,

"(...) the State does not have resources, though it does not empirically show that has made any effort to obtain them through redistribution strategies. (...) reality shows that the displaced population targeted programs are not fmanced by redistribution policies, though through cutting budgets to other social sectors, particularly housing, health subsidies ad credit resources."29

It is then proposed toframe policies alternatives and solutions for displaced population within a strong social policies reactivation dynamic agentedby the State whereitcanbedistinguished displaced population resources management, follow up, and destination DP, jrom the rest of the elements part ofthat policy, though that all make a real social policy such as,

"(...) it must start in a solidarity principie based on income redistribution in the progressive public spending financing and in the development model adoption that allows full economy reactivation." 30

Overcome welfarism and foealization in politics goes through a set of mechanism creation that includes the different moments involved in the problem which incorporates DP participationfrom the design, planning, and management execution to the proposals assessment and follow up.


Displaced population invades Medellin 2. The displaced population claim the right to be considered as citizens as the banner in the picture shows "WE ARE NOT COMBATANT" due to the existing stigmatization to forced displaced population. Medellin 1998.
Photography source: Carlos Torres Tovar, 1998.



As it has heen previously mentioned is essential a State leadership at all levels to give back the DP rights. Although it is ohvious that currently the public policies construction depends on the multiple agents' agreement and articulation. It is also clear that the national government must undertake the integral construction offeasihle and real alternatives to reestablish DP rights.

The housing case it should have housing offer heyond the subsidies that involves all the steps of the production and consumption process. Although the private sector participation is important it must be the public sector who leads the effort, not only giving the guidelines for habitat and housing production, though it also should anticipate a series of actions, some as pilot ones which show the State's actions improve, giving the appropriated solutions better to the current market offer.



As it was shown in the characterization, the region is presumed as the main territorial scenery where the primary displaced population mobility flows merge. It is proposed that the policies alternatives are designed and executed at central level heading to the 10 emerging regions mentioned: Uraba, Middle Magdalena, central and ean, Hills of Maña, Piedemonte, Venezuelanborder, BananaZone, Central Pacific and the Ecuadorian zone; particularly the 9 cities that concéntrales most of the DP reception: Bogota with 26.5% of the total; Santa Marta with 43%; Sincelejo 39%; Pasto 13.3%; Cucuta with 36.1%; Bucaramanga with 11.9%, Medellin 25%, Cali with 34.6%, Villavicencio 38.5%.

Another fundamental aspect that is guaranteed from regional approach alternative is related to the reconstruction social weaving according to the displaced community identity conditions. It is clear that the displacement flows it is produced within certain regions' inland s that have heen hased on historically shared and developed cultural elements on hio physic hased determinations. It is fundamental to control the lack of sense of helonging allowing solutions that do not part DPfrom their customs and socio cultural roots.

Also in the strict sense of the housing offered, it is important to take in consideration the cultural identity as it defines the habitat constructions forras, in this sense, multiple constructions alternativesmustbeprovided; shapes, materials, size that goes beyond the rigid stand ardized structure market offered. Displaced population should particípate through the different level of the alternative construction processes (design, planning, execution, evaluation and follow up through regional prof ects).



The displaced population rights of housing restitution it is hy definition the main ohjective of this field's alternative research. Nonetheless the multiple options and altematives offered hy the State confronting the inexistent DP exact housing characteristics definition heyond the established hy VIS or VIP shows the need to establish some variables that should he taken in consideration for policies and construction solutions that transform DP conditions and contrihute to the accumulated deht in emerging and already consolidated cities in the country.

To fully understand what a decent restitution means, it must he understood that housing access it is not a particular action which ends with the credit granted or the housing solution house given, the access refers to a set of components that are part ofpeople's life in any type of solution and that develops throughout the process. The State should guarantee mechanism that allow the long termfollow—up to assist the DP needs while it recupérales to confront social lije hy themselves once again.

It is olear that the so callea safe tendency is not synonym ofproperty. It can not hepresumed that hy guaranteed a document or an specific State action it has been fulfilled the guarantor role of such right. The property either of an individual or collective can only he reestahlished when it is sustainahle and in order to do the inhahitants must he ahle to restore relationships that ailows them to have a productive role through the right to employment, formation among others.



The proposal establishes vital hasics that emerge from the need to stop the vital hasic gradual and constant reduction31 within the current economic development model framework.

People's life in current society should he with the guarantees to fulfill their hasic needs, not minimal ones, produced in each territorial context. It means is heyond the State and even less the market to estahlish the possihility of a guarantee minimum in relationship to efficiency, cuts, austerity among others; on the contrary depends on women/men in this case in particular DP, the policies the lead to fulfill such right.



Displaced population housing solutions offered must include and incorpórate some of the results given hy the National Verification Survey (2007) as it shows the particular characteristics that should not he overlooked homogenizing the total current offer. Some of them are:

An Interpretation Matñx must be made that would allow recognizing the different temporal levels and type offamilies in displaced conditions to provide them with the adequate answer. This implies to acknowledge thefact that is a diverse population so it requires different treatment and not homogeneous answers.



The starting point must he the that not only a new housing is needed, though also a myriad of alternatives that goes from housing to buying housing leasing to full property ownership. This implies that it is a gradual process in time.

The design ofthis myriad ofpossihle solutions to decent housing access for Displaced Population will allow determining the type of solutionfor each household or speciftc group depending on various factors such as ethnic and cultural conditions, current situation, displacement length, type of household among others.

It is clear that full creation of rights of housing to the whole Displaced Population it can not he done in short term, hut in the long term. So it is necessary to design different alternatives to solve the displaced precarious housing situation; analyzing different safe tendency forms that can he ensured that can hecome a sustainahle long term solution.

It is also necessary to recognize the housing policies have mainly heen oriented to new housing generation and although other alternatives have heen planned, these ones have not heen fostered to he real ones. As the displaced population housing altemative solutions are mentioned the following ones, not heing the only possihle ones either.

Displaced population housing alternatives design and conception must include the productive housing concept as it is not only a lodging place. This stresses the fact that housing is not only understood and appropriate to a need and not merchand ise to be commercialized.

It is also important to create other alternatives that contribute to displaced population housing solutions as the ones now mentioned:



The financing issue is more complex as the social housing VIS or VIP access depends nowadays exclusively to the available money resources for its acquisition; nonetheless, the national resources destined to solve the displacedpopulationhousingneedsarelimited in relation to the need, added to the fact that there are serious problems to complement the national government housing subsidies.

The national policy still establishes that the subsidies resources to housing solution access will depend on the same bag of resources33that the rest of the Colombian people have which is not a solution to the national housing problem, even less for the displaced population. This ratifies as it is revised the National Development Plan 2006—2010 which gives the same treatment to extreme poverty and forced displaced population.

Vulnerable household scheme: displaced and under extreme poverty. The lowest income households will be linked to Social Protection Network to overcome Extreme poverty34 through implementation and financing solutions according to the population segment as renting, old housing and improvement. Related to the above mentioned the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development MAVDT and the rest of the housing policies executors will keep in mind the population targeted with the Network when the resources are distributed and assigned destined to the type of solutions above mentioned. It also should promote a greater municipal and departmental participation in relation to the displaced population through subsidies assigned and lor National Government resources' execution follow up."35
"(...) the material reparation can not be a symbolic and in episodes as most of the displaced population are Colombian people in a structural social crisis." 36

It is not admissible that as long as the displace population can not access to a decent housing, a great magnitude of the assigned resources helong to the financial institutions, which deny mortgage to the displaced population due to the impossibility to meet the minimal requirements.

Under this perspective is necessary to think in logical financing sources to be oble to solve the problem massively and not "drop by drop" through afocalization policyfor the displaced population right of housing.

It is also necessary the resources redistribution as the only way to facilitate the long term process to really impact the structural productiondynamic and vulnerable population needs attentioncapacity The financial strategy must establish a combination ofsources, taxes and credit among the possible ones.



Municipal and territorial resources contribution to solve the housing problem for the displaced population, with countable exceptions, has heenmostly inexistent. Mayhe it must he necessary to recognize Bogota and Medellin Cities' efforts the lastfew years.

Notwithstanding, it is necessary to estahlish correspondence levels with the expeller municipalities hy it wealth and demand that they supply part of the resources that the Nation supplies hy means of transference or royalties to contrihute to the prohlem solution as well to stimulate and reward the recipient communities.Inanotherwordsitmustbetaken in consideration the "henefits" distrihution issue for the expeller municipalities and the "expenses" for the recipient municipalities of the displaced in terms of available hudget.

If it is not possihle monetary subsidies the territorial entities contribution can be an alternative (land, networks and infrastructure, utilitiespublicservices andconnections, collective amenities, social services provisión, etc)

It is necessary to guarantee the municipalities facilitate complementary resources to complete the subsidized housing value (50 to 70 current mínimum legal monthly wage Smmly) recognizing the improvement buy or through municipal subsidies implementation to support the displaced population as Medellin and Bogota have established.



In November 1998 the national government supported hy the Constitution faculties in a crisis moment created a especial contrihution with no fiscal historical background in Colombia.This contribution taxed for a 2xl000 rate for financial transactions which implied junds withdrawal from bank and savings accounts and other type of intermediary. Ignacio Lozano F. y Jorge Ramos F. said:

"(...) initially the government announced a new provisional taxation and üs application would not go heyond December 31st 1999, once the gravest problems that the financial sector was undergoinghadbeencorrected.Notwühstanding, some line xpected events such as the earthquake in the cof jee—growing axis led to modijy the initial decisión, extending the taxation application period to the end of 2000."37

Nevertheless the agreements signed by the national government with the internal Monetary Fund IMF included a rigorous fiscal adjustment program that affected the expending as well as the taxes. So, within the tax system reforms introduced the following years it was key the extensión of the 2x1000 tax that hy 2009 is 4x1000 turning into a permanent tax to address the private sector losses gaps not like an alternative to collective tax collection to tackle the most vulnerable population needs in our country within them, the displaced population. 38.

The proposals suggest the use ofthis tax as a collective contrihution to the whole Colombian society to help restore the damages provoked hy forced displacement in our country and particularly to provide resources to solve the housing solutions required to address the problem, in other words that this tax hecomes a taxfor peace and notfor war in Colombia.



Decree 42, 1990 grants the National Narcotic Council faculties to manage and have for their disposal properties directly or indirectly linked to narco—traffic. This Council has the responsibility in the combat policies and programs formulation against production, trafficking and use of drugs that produce dependency and property subject to forjeiture.

It is necessary then to establish part of the confiscated resources to jund what it is requiredfor building peace which most of the displaced population has also heen through, hecause of the narco—trafficking rural territory indiscriminate usage for psychotropic sow (marihuana, coca and poppy).



People immediately changes status when acquires a property and that means they lose or reduce the State subsidies in terms of the utilities public services rate, health access subsidies through the SISBEN survey40, etc as well as becomes subject to RIGHTS as well as DUTIES and that means utilities public services connections; property tax, assessment (local or general) laxes, social services access rales, ele.

Displaced population housing access must he taken in consideration in any of the options as hecoming "no urhan proprietor" to full ownership implies "formality expenses" which can not he the reason to acquire the property and full right to housing, that is why it was proposed that during the formalization process a transition period is established, granting the new proprietors time (5 years mínimum) as 0 Stratum generating a progressive process in time that would allow them to cover the expenses linked to formality.



Other contrihutions must he jound beyond Colombian States' resources. These contributions should come from different sources such as:



The fact that the housing policy is hased on demand subsidies granting instead of offered subsidies conditions, this last one depends on the construction economy cycles. This leads to the demand's decrease in healthy economy times as the construction industry inclines to high prices housing as they generate the highest return per housing unit reducing the social housing VIS and VIP production.

It is important to design more objective housing funds assignation mechanism that recognize the difference between urban poverty and displaced one configuring different treatments.



VIS or VIP subsidies assignation nowadays is done by FONIVIVIENDA through Family Compensation Institutions, (Cajas de Compensación Familiar). Housing production it is entirely market initiative and responsibility so One Unique Operator does not exist that can deal with all the aspect to housing access from financing, production to its used follow up.



Before displacement population phenomenon this population had solved one way or another, the housing situation (as proprietor, owner, or other ways), so it can not he the same answerfor poor vulnerable urban population recipient competing in the same termsfor the same subsidy.

The sustainability conditions linked to the necessary elements production for the family group survival was previously solved in most cases; something that completely changes when they become another urban inhabitant because of its previous situation before they were displaced and the States responsibility in the phenomenon. It is reasonahle to think DP has the right of housing through property ownership.

"If it is not possible for the population to return in proper safety decent, and voluntary conditions, and t is not possible to grant the proper reparation for the loss or abandon properties and goods,; it should be then be given to all displaced population household a decent, owned housing in the recipient municipalities."

The authors


Conclusions and advances: alternatives impact in public policy

What was said in this article have been made under the conviction of the urgent need to produce the necessary tools to give a decent lije for displaced population and in general the whole Colombian people within the Current Institutional States of Affairs (Estado de Cosas Institucional ECI). A decent habitat and housing guarantee in this framework where lije can be fully lived will become the main premise in any reparation and rights reestablishing process.

This way the effective assessment aspect dynamic part of the ECI from 2004 related to the housing issue has allowed information recollection and systematization as well as alternatives formulation guided to address this problem in Colombia emphasizing DP situation as well as investigating the causes and solutions; displaced population housing public policies altematives which should include the territorial regulation issue as starting point axis and analysis, especially to understand this problem dimensions and reach.

The Constitutional Court after revising the follow up ofruling T 025,2004 ruled injanuary of this year Decree No 008 in which says:

"The National Government report and the Follow up Commission showed important deficit in housing, land and income generation issues. The Government report related to housing states that only 23% of the households exercise legal security possession, 35% lived in overcrowded conditions and 53% have access to all puhlic services. (...) According to the Follow up Commission report related to housing issues says only 5% ofthe RUDP households meets the decent housing conditions. For the unregistered population it has a little hit higher percentage (7%)."41

Constitutional Court characterizes the puhlic policies guidelines that should include the State from now onfor the overcoming of the Institutional States of Affairs together with the time it should take to hecome a reality saying that:

"(...) (i) the policy elements should he completely reconsidered, not only hecause of the lagging hut also hecause it can perpetúate the current institutional states of affairs (...). The firstgroup has housing, income generation and land components.42

The recommendations ruled in the Decree rules the complete reformulation of the puhlic policy43 process that should he finished hy June 30th 2009 and implemented hy August 3Tt2009.

As it was said through out this article the housing policy which Colombia has it does not correspond to the population needs on the contrarykeepsatendencytoworsentheproblem. The Constitutional Court recommendations can he taken in consideration to any kind of population which benefits from it.

It also says that Colombia has not had any housing and human settlement public policy either of rural or urban character. Adding to the acute land concentration and the concessions to the private sector and the market has closed the doors to the right of housing not only to the DP but also to most poor people. The Colombian State owns the country effective decent policies beyond DP to have access to the right of housing as a reality for many Colombian people.

The elements mentioned here by the Decree No 008, 2009 represents a significant advanced in the demanding process of the displaced population rights and also to guarantee to be the opening door to the right of housing and decent habitat to every single inhabitant in the whole national territory The stress in the territorial entities responsibility especially highlighting POT and the land usage, It is a step forward in the planning and territorial regulation policies guidelines starting from the population as a whole needs which guarantees the necessary boundaries to impact the land, real estate and construction market in the city region and country model definition for the Colombian case.



3   This article was part of the "Proceso Nacional de Verificación a la Sentencia T 025 de 2004"( National Process Verification of Ruling T 025, 2004) research, Experts' Table right of housing, in which the analysis, reflexions and recommendations were made related tothe right of housing demand by displaced population in Colombia (TORRES, 2008).

4   The total number of displaced population in Colombia between the years 1985 2008 is 4.628.895 according to Human Rights and Displacement Consultancy (Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento CODHES (CODHES, 2009)), which means for every 10 Colombians 1 has been forcibly displaced in the last 25 years.

5 According to the 2005 Census result (DANE), 36,21 % of Colombia's home showed housing needs (3.955.776); the quantitative deficit thatdemands new housing unitconstruction is of 1.351.366 homes which is (34.16%) of cohabitation type (shared housing with other families). The quality deficit is 2.604.411 (65.84%).

6 The Colombian Constitutional Court ruling that acknowledge the displaced population rights. This was addressed after declaring this people grave situation in an unconstitutional state ECI, pointing out the general ignorance to the Law that gave them its Rights as well as displacement ruling principies ofthe 1998 United Nations charter.

7 January 26th 2009, Colombian Constitutional Ruling ratified ECI declared in ruling T 025 de 2004 related to displaced population. This ruling warns the State to effectively guarantee the displaced populations Rights within institucional capacity improvement to guarantee the public policies suitability to give them their effective rights' exercise. ECI (includes reformulation of Housing Policies for displaced population); and to fill the gaps in public policies formulation and implementation.

8   Pradilla, Emilio. 2002. Pág.1.

9 Data provided by Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento —CODHES— in Follow up Commission Document of the Forced Displacement Public Policies follow up. Ruling T — 025 —First Report: Forced Displacementand Public Policies December 2006.

10 MONTEIRO, Teresinha et al. 2007. Pág. 59 60.

11 Law that deal with adoption measures to prevent forced displacement; socio economic attention, protection, consolidation and stabilization for the internal displaced by violence in Colombia. This has been mainly partially ruled by the National Decreet951, 2562 y 2569 2001.

12   ROMERO, Marco. 2006. pág. 33.

13   Article 288 ofthe Politícal Constitution of Colombia 1991 establishes thatitmustbeformulated a "(...) territorial regulation organic law that will distribute competences betweenthe Nation and territorial entities. The distributed competences among the differentterritorial levels should be exercised in conformity to the coordination, concurrence and subsidiary principies according to the Law ". This law has not been passed yet.

14   There are 32 administrative politícal subdivisions in Colombia since 1991 Politícal Constitution.

<15   The incapacity to built a strong State in Colombia and in other countries in Latin America— itexplains by the weaknesses in their territorial regulation, in our case it has not been able to solve the tensión between centralized and federal structure, overlooking the regional historical structure as the way they have organized their lives, its inhabitants in each of the complex natural territories that make Colombia. From the bio—physical to the politícal organization policies has been organized around a regional structure and in rare cases in relation to politícal, administrative borders imposed by the norm as territorial entities.

16   ROMERO, Marco. 2006. p. 23.

17   RUIZ, Nubia. 2008. p 19.

18   Ibíd. pág. 15.

19   La Vivienda de Interés Social VIS (social interest housing), itis the one that has the pricelimitof 135 current existing monthly mínimum salary (Salarios Mínimos Mensuales tegales Vigentes —Smmlv) —(67.095.000 pesos in 2009,32.300 US dollars approximately).

20   La Vivienda de Interés Prioritario VIP (Priority Interest Housing), it is the one that has as price limit 70 (Smmlv 34.790.000 pesos de 2009,16.750 US dollars approximately)

21   Two factors are added to apply State's housing: assigned score to family income by the SISBEN Survey (Identification system of social program potential beneficiary or Sistema de identificación de potenciales beneficiarios de programas sociales), added to the wanted property final value. The subsidies are between 1,988,000(4 Smmlv, 950 US dollars approximately) and 10,934 (22 Smmlv, 5,250 US dollars approximately).

22   DNR 2004.

23   "Unidad Agrícola Familiar (UAF) Family Farm Unit is the basic agricultural production company, livestock, aquaculture, and forestry, its extensión has to meet the zone's agro—ecological conditions and with the adequatetechnology that would allow the family generate the necessary income, exceeding its capital to help form its patrimony". Law 160,1994. Article 38.

24   It matches the homesincluded in the (Registro Único de Población Desplazada RUPD) National Displaced Population Single Register that coordinates the Presidential Agency for Social Action and Cooperation.

25  Comisión de seguimiento a la politíca pública sobre el desplazamiento forzado. 2008. Forced displaced public policies followup committee, 2008.

26  DNR 2002.

27  1.400 million dollars.

28  ROMERO, Marco. 2006. P.32.

29  Ibíd. P. 29.

30  Ibíd. R 29.

31 "It is defined as worker's income share that is destined to meet basic needs and the dependant nuclear family such as food, housing health, education recreation, utilities Public services among others; Rights that are specifically granted in the Charter and that also includes the individual's dignity as the constitutional legal order main principie." (Art. 1 de la Constitución Politíca de Colombia, 1991) ( Colombia's constitution article 1,1991)

32 Known as the Law of Territorial Development or Law of Territorial Regulation in force since1997.

33 It is the Ministerio de Ambiente, Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial MAVDT (Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development) responsibility to foster and develop national housing policy and facilitate the economic resources for housing subsidies granting which converge in the Fondo Nacional de Vivienda FONVIVIENDA (National Housing Fund) Decree 555,2003 that are manage by the Family Compensation financial institution (Cajas de Compensación Familiar) that assign them at national level.

34 CONPES Social 102. 2006.

35 DNR 2007. p.192.

36 ROMERO, Marco. 2007. p. 21.

37 LOZANO, Ignacio; RAMOS, forge. 2000. p. 1.

38 Transferred amount by the State 4x1000 taxation in 1999 is of 24.6 billons de pesos (12,300 millions dollars).

39 The socio economic stratum in Colombia classifies population in ranges of 1 to 6, (being 1 the most deficit and 6 the ones with the most .purchasing power. The 0 stratum or without stratum; belongs to a category to differentiate people, who have special conditions. The stratification is to be used for public services rate, taxes, collective property and services access such as health and education, as well as for subsidies assignation.

40 Sistema de identificación de potenciales beneficiarios de programas sociales. DNP (1995). Documento CONPES Social 40.

41 Constitutional Court Law N° 008,2009.

42 Ibíd.

43 The criteria that should be taken in consideration in this process: Lodging and basic housing access; provide help for self support; guarantees the full exercise of the DP rights; territorial entities commitment with the DP, especially in the POT land usage; displacement offer stipulation; guarantee the differential approach; give priority to mother head of households; sustainability guarantee of temporary measures ruling; meet the minimum rational public policies observance by the Constitutional Court.



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Received: 25.03.09
Accepted: 02.07.09