Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic and Inter-American Development Bank

Formulating a new rental housing strategy for the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is facing a significant housing crisis, with an estimated deficit of 1.4 million decent-quality, affordable homes. This deficit is a mix of existing homes with structural defects, inadequate construction materials, and lack of access to basic services such as potable water or sanitation, and insufficient housing stock to accommodate the country’s growing population. In addition, the country’s location makes its residents and infrastructure acutely vulnerable to natural disasters, including earthquakes and hurricanes, the risk of which is expected to worsen with climate change.

About the project

Altair was commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic (MITUR) to formulate a new rental housing strategy.  This important project, financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB/BID), was conducted under the Integrated Urban and Tourism Development Programme for the Colonial City off Santo Domingo, and represents a key component of the government’s wider efforts to tackle the housing deficit.

The project paid particular attention to the specific situation of the Ciudad Colonial de Santo Domingo, a Unesco heritage site within the nation’s capital. The Colonial City of Santo Domingo has exercised a strong influence on the development of the cities of the Caribbean and the American continent and was founded by Christopher Bartholomew Columbus. The neighbourhood boasts a rich architectural heritage and thriving local culture, which are increasingly helping to attract international tourists, but issues with housing quality and affordability are contributing to a growing problem of depopulation, with the local population shrinking in recent years.  A priority for the new rental housing strategy was to balance attraction (of new residents, visitors, and investment) and retention (of existing residents and the local cultural heritage). The Altair team undertook a number of tasks to produce a robust strategy including: researching the local housing market, to identify key issues on the demand side and supply side; comparative analysis of different rental housing strategies in selected Latin American and European countries; and interviewing expert stakeholders regarding the Dominican Republic’s housing situation and possible components of the rental housing strategy.

Results

The team at Altair developed an outline strategy with key recommendations including the establishment of a new not-for-profit housing company (or “Special Purpose Vehicle” (SPV) ) which will develop and manage affordable rental homes. They also produced a financial business plan – a detailed roadmap for implementing the new strategy, including a small pilot development of 120 rental and rent-to-own homes to be delivered by the SPV.

The project successfully concluded with MITUR ready to implement Altair’s recommendations and tackle the national housing deficit.

 

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