Venezuela’s high rise slum “The Tower of David”: can (will) it happen in America?

cobbland Members Posts: 3,768 ✭✭✭✭✭
Backdrop of the Tower:
In 1990, construction began on the Centro Financiero Confinanzas, a huge high-rise office complex in Caracas, Venezuela. Construction halted in 1994, after a banking crisis and the death of the building's main investor, David Brillembourg. The 45-story tower stood vacant until 2007, when squatters began moving in, displaced by a massive housing shortage in Caracas. Authorities turned a blind eye, and the skyscraper, nicknamed the "Tower of David" (after David Brillembourg), is now home to more than 3,000 residents. The third-highest skyscraper in the country has been jury-rigged with electricity and water up to the 22nd floor. Reuters photographer Jorge Silva spent some time with tower residents earlier this year, returning with these photographs of the world's tallest slum.

***Additional photos in link below***

The unfinished Tower of David stands above Caracas on January 31, 2014.

Francisco, 18, cooks in his apartment inside the Tower of David on February 9, 2014
Fall Of The Tower Of David: Squatters Leave Venezuela's Vertical Slum
July 23, 20146:07 PM ET
Venezuela's government began to evacuate a famous "vertical slum" in Caracas Tuesday, bringing an end to a self-made community that became famous for its apocalyptic image, symbolic overtones and appearance in the Showtime series Homeland.

The half-finished skyscraper, called the "Tower of David" for its financier, David Brillembourg, was abandoned during a banking crisis in the '90s, according to The Associated Press. Years later, with the encouragement of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez, poor residents took over the building.

"By 2007, squatters had claimed everything from the parking garages to the rooftop helipad," the AP reports. "They rigged up electricity, opened up stores and barbershops, and created an internal management system."

The Tower is a complex symbol — of failed capitalism, anarchic dysfunction and self-built community, the wire service says. Twenty-eight floors of the 45-story structure are illegally occupied, complete with beauty parlors and day-care centers, says Reuters photographer Jorge Silva. "One could live here without ever having to go outside," Silva writes…

"Necessity brought me here, and the tower gave me a good home," said Yuraima Parra, 27, cradling her baby daughter as soldiers loaded her possessions into a truck before dawn.

"I was here for seven years. I'm going to miss it, but it's time to move on."

Residents were going to new homes in the town of Cua, south of Caracas, under the state's Great Housing Mission project - a flagship policy of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

Nicknamed after its developer, the financier and horse-? David Brillembourg, the Tower of David was viewed by many Caracas residents as a focus for crime gangs and a symbol of property "invasions" encouraged in the Chavez era.
Residents, though, said the building became a refuge from the city's crime-ridden 'barrios' and had turned into something of a model commune.

Inside there was evidence of hyper-organization everywhere: corridors were polished daily; squatters who had first arrived in tents then partitioned spaces into well-kept apartments; work schedules, rules and admonitions plastered the walls.
Homeless Families Endure Roaches, Mice and Failed Promises
By VIVIAN YEEAUG. 28, 2015

Merlinda Fernandez, center, at her apartment, in one of about 400 private buildings that house homeless people in New York. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Beyond the unlocked front doors of 60 Clarkson Avenue in Brooklyn, the lobby is a half-lit cavern, its ornate plaster moldings and patterned floor smeared with dirt. The windows gape onto a courtyard dense with weeds and trash. On the days when it comes at all, the elevator smells of ? .

Inside Apartment 6M, where Merlinda Fernandez, her husband and their six children have lived for five years, cockroaches saunter along the walls and invade the refrigerator, and mice nestle in the baby’s blanket. Toys lie untouched in their packaging, the only way the family knows to keep them safe from the roaches.

A sticker on the door reads, “Bless this home with Love & Laughter.”

Ms. Fernandez and her family are among hundreds of homeless people sent in the past six years to the building because they had nowhere else to go…

Profits for a Landlord

The 83-unit brick building at 60 Clarkson Avenue sits atop a vast chunk of its slowly gentrifying block. It is just one of many buildings scattered across the city where homeless families came to live alongside, and often displaced, rent-regulated tenants.

Its current owner, Barry Hers, bought it at a foreclosure auction in 1995. As he had done with other buildings, Mr. Hers said, he began renting some of the rent-stabilized apartments to people looking to escape homelessness, accepting federal Section 8 vouchers or other rental subsidies.

The city first began placing homeless families in private buildings in 2000, under the Giuliani administration, when the homeless population overwhelmed the shelters. City officials promised that the program, then called scatter-site housing, was temporary. But it only grew, climbing from 50 units at the start to more than 2,000 by December 2002, when it housed 21 percent of all homeless families in the system.

The city paid around $2,800 a month per apartment to each landlord for rent and furniture, creating what critics said was an unintended side effect: As landlords realized that homeless families in need of scatter-site housing could be more lucrative than their regular tenants, they began pushing out their original tenants, offering them money, trying to evict them or simply letting conditions crumble until they left.

Critics of the program, including advocates for homeless people, community leaders and elected officials, denounced it as a stopgap that papered over one problem only to worsen another, pushing low-income residents out of their homes and removing otherwise affordable apartments from circulation.


  • cobbland
    cobbland Members Posts: 3,768 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Mr. Hers, who has also been listed in records as Barry Hersko or Hershko, said he began accepting homeless families at 60 Clarkson after federal housing subsidies shrank, leaving some of his apartments empty. The building plunged into a steep decline.

    The windows were stripped of their curtains. The stairwells resounded with the noise of children running around, loud music and fights. The paint cracked and peeled. And the landlord, several tenants said, did little to push back at the growing disorder.

    As conditions worsened, more rent-stabilized tenants packed up to leave — and more homeless families were sent to Clarkson Avenue.

    The original tenants “started moving out because the building was going down” and poorly run, said Melvina McMillan, who has lived there for 20 years, one of about 10 rent-stabilized tenants who remain in the building. “They didn’t want to stay here and be here with their children when they could easily find something else.”
    Those who stayed had no other options, tenants said.

    “If I had the choice, or I had the money, I would move out,” said a woman who has lived there for nearly 40 years, who declined to give her name because she feared jeopardizing her $980-a-month rent-stabilized lease. “I can’t afford to go anywhere. I might wind up like the shelter people.”

    Mr. Hers said he had never tried to evict tenants in favor of homeless families to make money, noting that Ms. McMillan, for instance, pays more rent than the city’s rent rate. At one point he tried to evict Ms. McMillan for nonpayment, though she said he dropped the case after admitting he had been mistaken.

    He now runs 10 buildings where homeless families live alongside regular tenants, city officials said.
    “It’s not like I go and take the high rollers. I always worked with low-income people,” Mr. Hers said in an interview. “I have no problem helping people; that’s my nature. I’m getting less than I could get. I could rent these for $2,800 or $3,200 if I was a bad person.”

    (According to a rental market report issued in July by MNS Real Estate, the average rent for a one-bedroom in the area is $1,642, and $2,129 for a two-bedroom, but apartments in new developments are often priced much higher.)
    2 Bedrooms In Cabrini-Green's New High Rise Start At $3,200 A Month

    Ten years ago, Cabrini-Green was best known for its notoriously struggling public housing project of the same name. Today, it's becoming something of a goldmine for developers who have planned new, luxury high rises for the Near North Side area not far from where the dilapidated public housing towers once stood.

    One of the first new developments to spring up from around Cabrini-Green's demolition rubble is Xavier, a sleek, 18-story, eco-friendly building, which is now accepting tenant applications at sky-high rental prices. Studios in the 625 W. Division St. tower start at $1,825 a month, according to listings; one bedrooms start at $2,300, and two bedrooms start at $3,275.

    The units boast such amenities as Nest Thermostats, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and exposed concrete ceilings. The building's shared spaces include a rooftop with a chef's kitchen and two dog runs. It sounds divine—if you have the income for it.

    With Chicago in the midst of a housing crisis we can't help but see the promises of these luxury developments coinciding with the displacement of Chicago's working class and the hastening demise of its affordability for anyone making less than $72,000 a year (that's how much you'd have to make to reasonably afford a studio apartment at $1,825 a month, based on this popular rental formula).
    Working class priced out, kicked out in new Portland housing boom
    By Jeff Manning | The Oregonian/OregonLive
    Email the author | Follow on Twitter
    on September 22, 2015 at 12:47 PM, updated September 22, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    Enrique Rios, a 26-year-old Los Angeles transplant, lives with his fiancée and small dog in a 250-square-foot "micro-unit" apartment in Northwest Portland. It is the size of a college dorm room with space for a bed, a toilet and not much else. He cooks meals in a communal kitchen shared with other tenants.
    Rios pays $995 a month.

    Seattle developer Footprint Northwest LLC bought the home that was at the site on Northwest Thurman Street in 2013, replacing it with a five-story, 54-unit building.

    Call them "a-pod-ments," or hipster hovels, there are now hundreds of these micro-units in Portland. They are part of a real estate gold rush that is transforming Portland and is propelling housing costs to levels never before seen.
    Seven years since the last housing bust flattened Oregon's economy, developers have let loose another tidal wave of building. From the red-hot Clinton neighborhood in Southeast Portland to St. Johns, developers are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into glitzy apartment buildings.

    Despite 22,000 new apartments coming on line in the metropolitan area since 2012, more than half in Portland proper, vacancies remain practically non-existent. That has freed apartment owners to charge eye-popping rents -- think $1,200 for a 400-square-foot studio, as much as double that for a one-bedroom.

    The average rent in Portland has jumped 41 percent since 2010 to $1,242, according to Axiometrics, a Dallas real estate analysis firm.

    The boom raises troubling issues of economic inequality, as rent hikes have spiraled far beyond workers' wage increases. The posh new apartment houses are prevalent on Portland's east side, historically the gritty home to the city's working class. Even developers share foreboding that the central city is becoming a playground for the affluent while the young and the old and the people in the service economy no longer can afford to live there.

    Critics have coined a nifty phrase for the trend -- "economic apartheid."

    Affordable housing has become a hot political issue up and down the West Coast as prices continue to escalate. But addressing the downside of popularity and growth is no easy task. Said one local planner: "This is capitalism. How do you fight it?"

    While bureaucrats mull policy, people are struggling to stay in their homes.
    Apartment dwellers in metro Denver getting priced out, pushed out
    By Aldo Svaldi
    The Denver Post
    POSTED: 03/15/2015 12:01:00 AM MDT97 COMMENTS| UPDATED: 11 MONTHS AGO
    Ramona Vega, a five-year resident of Autumn Arms Apartments, stands on her balcony Tuesday. She says it has been difficult finding another residence ever since an eviction notice was placed on her door. (AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)
    In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of Reach of Middle Class
    Housing units under construction in Miami. The city's rents on average consume 43 percent of the typical household income, up from a historical average of just over a quarter. Credit Angel Valentin for The New York Times
  • Focal Point
    Focal Point Members Posts: 16,307 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Folks gonna end up in the sewers on some Judge Dredd ?
  • J-sonDkay
    J-sonDkay Members Posts: 99 ✭✭✭
    so this is where brody was after the cia hq blew up
  • rodneyskinner
    rodneyskinner Members Posts: 135 ✭✭
    Folks gonna end up in the sewers on some Judge Dredd ?

    Let me catch ninjas coming out the sewer in America like84.png

  • kingblaze84
    kingblaze84 Members Posts: 14,288 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Folks gonna end up in the sewers on some Judge Dredd ?

    Let me catch ninjas coming out the sewer in America like84.png

    LOL, reminds me of a documentary I saw on Columbia once. Tons of street kids and even whole families living in the sewers. I hope America never gets that bad.
  • b1grobtheking
    b1grobtheking Members Posts: 201 ✭✭
    ever since the movie "demolition man" came out,i always thought thats how america would be in the that movie ,youll see where we headed unless we start making changes
  • 2stepz_ahead
    2stepz_ahead Guests, Members, Writer, Content Producer Posts: 32,324 ✭✭✭✭✭
    i might have to visit there an invest before they build back up
  • cobbland
    cobbland Members Posts: 3,768 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Folks gonna end up in the sewers on some Judge Dredd ?
    Folks gonna end up in the sewers on some Judge Dredd ?

    Let me catch ninjas coming out the sewer in America like84.png

    ever since the movie "demolition man" came out,i always thought thats how america would be in the that movie ,youll see where we headed unless we start making changes

    As Rents Skyrocket in Logan Square, Landlord M. Fishman Defends Steep Hikes
    LOGAN SQUARE — Estefania Salgado and her boyfriend have lived in their one-bedroom apartment for the last five years, paying around $800 a month, but might soon have to pay nearly double that to stay in their home.

    Last month she received a 30-day notice to sign a lease for $1,450 plus utilities — or leave the apartment owned M. Fishman & Co.

    The rent increase follows a pattern, according to renters in those buildings and housing rights activists in the neighborhood. They point to a number of similar moves Fishman has made in recent years, buying large multiunit apartment buildings, rehabbing them and significantly raising rents.

    Logan Square Residents Protest Rising Rents
    CHICAGO (CBS) — About 200 residents of the Logan Square neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side staged a protest march and rally to call attention to sharply increasing rents.

    Many of the protesters live in some of the roughly 80 buildings in Logan Square owned by Mark Fishman, of M. Fishman and company.

    Beth Berringer says her rent is being raised by $360, and no longer will include heat, water or garbage, and she has until May first to pay or move.

    “I’m a full-time student, I’m only working part time and it’s definitely a hardship,” she said. “Everyone in the building I’ve met can’t afford it or has to move.”
    Tent City In Chicago’s Uptown Grows
    (CBS) — A group raising funds to buy tents for the homeless on the city’s North Side is being criticized for its efforts.

    CBS 2’s Sandra Torres reports.

    The group Uptown Tent City has raised more than $8,000 to buy tents for the homeless in the area. Although some praise their efforts, many believe the focus should be on a more permanent solution.

    One homeless man, who identified himself as Don, says he’s been waiting for a lifeline since 2009.

    He now sleeps beneath an overpass, likes dozens of others at Lawrence, Wilson and Foster avenues.

    Uptown Tent City is providing tents and basic necessities.

    But some say handing out tents is not the way to go.

    “Unfortunately, giving them blankets and tents and food is not helping them. It’s just putting a Band-Aid on the problem,” one local says.

    Ryne Poelker of Uptown Tent City says supporting the short-term effort to provide tents doesn’t mean the group doesn’t back the idea of long-term solutions.

    At Chicago City Hall Thursday, members of the group voiced their concerns about construction of a new high rise that’s getting close to $16 million in tax increment financing in Uptown.

    “It’s almost criminal that they are doing this literally feet away from where people who are sleeping outside in below-zero temperatures,” Poelker told city officials.

    The Emanuel administration says the city offers services to the homeless, if they are interested in them.
    Steve Wynn: ‘Nobody likes being around poor people’
    Wynn plans to build a resort casino in Everett.

    Casino mogul Steve Wynn.
    –AP Photo / Charles Krupa
    By Eric Levenson, Adam Vaccaro 8:15 AM
    Steve Wynn, the casino magnate who plans to build a $2 billion casino in Everett, was characteristically blunt when speaking about his company’s business strategy in a meeting with investors on Thursday.

    According to a transcript of the call by Seeking Alpha, Wynn said his company “caters to the top-end” of the gaming world, like a “Chanel” or “Louis Vuitton.”

    “But unlike Chanel and Louis Vuitton, we are able in our business to cater to all of the market by making our standard so high that everybody wants to in the building,” he said. “Or to put it in a more colloquial way, rich people only like being around rich people. Nobody likes being around poor people, especially poor people.

    “So we try and make the place feel upscale for everyone,” he continued. “That is to say, we cater [to] the people who have discretion and judgment and give them a choice.”