Apr. 20, 2020

Jonathan Malagón


Jonathan Malagón

Minister, Ministry of Housing, Cities, and Territory

“Colombia has continuously reduced its housing deficit for more than 20 years through an active housing policy focused on incentivizing demand through subsidies and developing new supply.”


Jonathan Malagón graduated with honors in economics from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and holds a degree in business management from the University of London. He holds a an MPA in economic policy from Columbia, a master's in finance from the University of Barcelona, and a PhD in economics from Tilburg University. One of the 25 global winners of the Eisenhower Fellowship Global, he served as Vice President of ASOBANCARIA, Director of Economic Analysis of FEDESARROLLO, General Manager of the COMPARTEL Program, Manager of Management Control, Assistant to the CEO, Head of Economic Studies of Telefónica Colombia, and as a researcher at ANIF. He also worked as a consultant for CAF, the World Bank, and the UNDP.

Which regions have the greatest housing needs? What policies could improve this situation?

By total household numbers, eight states concentrate half of the housing deficit in Colombia: Antioquia, Bolívar, Bogotá, Córdoba, Valle del Cauca, Cundinamarca, Nariño, and Magdalena. These numbers are highly correlated with large populations and large urbanization processes. However, analyzing the percentage of households with a deficit of total households by department, San Andrés, Chocó, Vichada, Vaupés, Guainía and Amazonas—i.e. the ones with the highest poverty levels—have the highest deficit rates. This is particularly true in rural zones. Nevertheless, Colombia has continuously reduced its housing deficit for more than twenty years. This has been achieved by an active housing policy that has focused on both incentivizing the demand through acquisition subsidies and developing new supply. Today, demand-side subsidies are the focus of our housing policy, giving citizens the possibility to choose where they want to live. Currently, we have developed four main programs to tackle these challenges. First is Mi Casa Ya, a program of housing subsidies designed for households with monthly incomes below USD1,070. The subsidy includes a voucher for the down payment and a subsidy for the mortgage's interest rate for a seven-year period. Second is Semillero de Propietarios, a program that targets the population that cannot get a mortgage typically because they are part of the informal economy and unbanked. This program was designed with two objectives in mind: providing a solution that allows them to access a decent house and encourage financial inclusion and helping beneficiaries establish a good credit history that makes them eligible for a mortgage in the future. Through this “social renting program”, the government subsidizes close to USD150 of the rent payment per month, while the households contribute the remaining balance, a minimum of USD 100, in addition to an agreed upon monthly savings amount. The objective is that by the end of the two-year subsidy period, these beneficiaries can apply to “Mi Casa Ya” and buy a house of their own. Third is Casa Digna Vida Digna, is a housing and neighborhood improvement strategy that contributes to reducing the qualitative deficit in Colombia. This program includes titling, whereby households that can prove a 10-year occupancy in lands that were built informally on state-owned land are given title to the property. The other two components of the program are home improvement and public infrastructure for neighborhood amelioration (parks, schools, and nurseries, among others). Finally, we are leading a national strategy to unlock more urban land for housing developments. This includes working closely with municipalities by helping them to update their Urban Planning Framework according to the actual needs of their population and development plans, thereby properly zoning the territory and land usage in their jurisdictions.

What policies have been created to improve the conditions of homes built with precarious materials and in risk areas?

Casa Digna Vida Digna is our home and neighborhood improvement program, which tackles the housing qualitative deficit in three dimensions: titling for qualifying houses in informal settlements; housing interventions to improve structural and even aesthetic deficiencies; and overall neighborhood improvement. In Colombia, the qualitative deficit is twice the quantitative one. For this reason, this program is at the center of our strategy, and we have an ambitious target of 600,000 beneficiaries with improvement interventions by 2022. It is worth noting that these interventions target critical housing elements defined in the Multidimensional Poverty Index, which means that by accomplishing the program´s goal, nearly one million people will potentially be lifted out of multidimensional poverty. Furthermore, the policy promotes the guidelines set by the New Urban Agenda, introducing a new concept of housing quality: inclusiveness, resilient and sustainable housing, and quality surroundings.