My Father’s Home Repair Subsidy
May 7, 2015
HAVANA TIMES — In December of last year, my father applied for a
construction subsidy from the Head Municipal Housing Office in Habana
del Este. Zuleidys, the secretary who saw him, told him not to have over
realistic expectations, that they had granted very few such subsidies
I, who had gone with him, told him not to lose hope, that “nothing
ventured, nothing gained.” Something told me, however, that we wouldn’t
be able to solve our housing repair problems this way, and so it was. To
date, no one has even come around the house to carry out the needed
In February this year, Maggie, another Housing Office employee, called
my father and told him she was responsible for evaluating the property,
but that we needed to find transportation for her, because of how far
the house was.
Annoyed at this, my dad told her the truth: that we didn’t have a car or
the money to rent one. I then had the idea that we could use the
motorcycle from my mom’s work. The bike isn’t supposed to be used for
such things, but everyone does it.
I told Maggie we could pick her up on the motorcycle, and she said it
would have to be at her house in Guanabacoa. Her attitude struck me as
more than petulant, but I wanted to help out my dad, who’s old, and
lives in a house that’s even older.
We agreed to arrange for picking her up one day before I was leaving for
the Central Cuban province of Ciego e Avila. I’d planned everything like
clockwork. It would be a question of picking her up and taking her back.
Hours before the agreed time, however, Maggie phoned me to cancel the
appointment, saying she was “tied up.”
When I returned from Ciego de Avila, I phoned the number she’d given me.
A woman picked up and told me Maggie didn’t live there anymore. And
that’s that, that’s all she wrote. We’ve been waiting for her or any
other Housing Office employee to call us ever since, but to no avail. My
father even complained at the Communist Party’s Municipal Office, but
his complaint has had no repercussions.
The construction subsidy was one of the initiatives implemented by Raul
Castro almost immediately after he came to power. The building of
thousands of homes has been completed this way, through people’s
personal efforts and money, and the State’s said “subsidy.” This way,
the State can report many more homes have been built thanks to it.
However, like everything else in this country, everything that starts
out fairly well ends up in the gutter. The subsidy still exists, but
very few people actually benefit from it these days. Those responsible
for making this mechanism work either become corrupt or lazy.
Source: My Father’s Home Repair Subsidy – Havana Times.org –