The Costa Rican government has proposed to merge the Housing Mortgage Bank (Banhvi), the National Institute of Housing and Urbanism (INVU) and the Ministry of Housing and Human Settlements (Mivah) in order to create the Ministry of Territory, Habitat and Housing (Mihabitat). However, according to Dagoberto Hidalgo, general manager of Housing Mortgage Bank, this proposal would go against the popular classes, is incoherent with the National Financial System and eliminates the housing bonus. 

What is the housing bonus in Costa Rica?

The housing bonus is a social assistance created by the Costa Rican government to provide decent housing to the families who need it most. This bonus is intended to provide care and support in order to improve the quality of life. Among the main beneficiary populations are women heads of household, elderly or disabled adults, all people with special needs, middle class families and low-income families. 

Even so, there are some requirements to obtain the bonus. First of all, the applicant must be a national or resident of the country, the applicant of the bonus must be part of the family group -that is, must live under the same roof and have obligations within the household-, within the household there must be at least one person of legal age in charge of the process, the applicant must not own a house or have more than one property and, finally, the family group must have an income of no more than 1,625,932 colones or less than 403,983 colones, in the case of applying for the housing bonus of extreme need. So, thanks to the housing bonus, applicants can buy a lot in their own name and start construction on it. 


According to the Government, the Mihabitat entity would become a strengthened and efficient sector to respond to the needs of the Costa Rican population. By regrouping all the institutions dedicated to the housing sector, Mihabitat would be in charge of governing and executing public policies on housing, urbanism, planning and land management. Thus, regional and local urban planning processes will be facilitated and municipalities will have the necessary instruments and support from the ministry. 

But what does the assembly think?

Faced with such a proposal, the legislative assembly has been divided in opinions. Two of the six legislative benches have opposed the elimination of the housing bonus: the National Liberation Party and the Social Christian Unity. 

Paulina Ramírez of the PLN and Rodrigo Arias have criticized this initiative. The former mentions that the government intends to eliminate the housing bonus while it has not given priority to a national housing strategy and continues to cut budgets to this sector. Arias, for his part, adds that it is a project that has many flaws. 

In addition, the nine congressmen of the PUSC rejected the vote in favor of said proposal for completely eliminating the National Financial System for Housing. In turn, Carlos Felipe García comments that the bill has violations of constitutional order that attempts to fill legal loopholes and that it would end up causing many problems to the country. 

Frente Amplio deputy, Rocío Alfaro, has also positioned herself against the government’s proposal, saying that the elimination of the housing bonus would worsen the problem of poverty and inequality.

Author: Mónica Gallardo for Sensorial Sunsets