- Title: Argentines struggle with housing crisis as presidential vote looms
- Date: 16th October 2019
- Summary: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (FILE - MARCH 1, 2019) (REUTERS) GENERAL VIEW OF CONGRESS BUILDING
- Embargoed: 30th October 2019 14:37
- Keywords: Argentina economy rent pay employment President Mauricio Macri candidate Alberto Fernandez Buenos Aires
- Location: BUENOS AIRES + OLIVOS, BUENOS AIRES PROVINCE, ARGENTINA
- City: BUENOS AIRES + OLIVOS, BUENOS AIRES PROVINCE, ARGENTINA
- Country: Argentina
- Topics: Government/Politics,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA005B1CIDDZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Silvia Gauna is struggling to make the rent on the one-room Buenos Aires apartment she shares with her teenage daughter. High inflation has driven up rents, with salaries and employment hit by recession. Gauna herself lost her long-term job in August.
Now the 49-year-old risks losing her home, one of a growing number of Argentines straining under rental payments as an economic crisis and popular anger tips South America's No. 2 economy back toward populism ahead of presidential elections this month.
Gauna's plight reflects a broader housing crisis. In the wealthy capital alone, two-fifths of people have difficulty making rent as prices have outstripped salaries, according to the city's independent ombudsman office, double the level in March last year. Homelessness has risen and many houses stand empty.
Gauna, who works as a hotel receptionist, lost her long-term position two months ago, just as President Mauricio Macri was dealt an unexpected landslide defeat in primary elections.
The rental crisis underscores broader dynamics in Argentina ahead of elections likely to oust Macri. The center-rightist, a former Buenos Aires mayor, came to power promising to spur investment and eradicate poverty, but now looks set to leave office with millions more in hardship.
Ahead of the vote, Macri has rolled out popular measures to bolster jobs and cut taxes, though many blame his administration's deregulation of the housing market for high rents and for failing to get inflation under control.
Macri has promised his government will look to "take care" of renters worried about an uncertain future. But he has won few favours among hard-hit voters by cutting back on subsidies for public utilities as part of a drive to lower government debts.
Argentina's Congress, meanwhile, is now looking at draft proposals to alleviate the housing crisis. Three proposed housing-related bills went in front of lawmakers on Tuesday.
Gauna herself is hoping the country's next leader will help bolster jobs, but is pessimistic with economic growth forecasts deteriorating and annual inflation running at over 50%.
(Production: Juan Bustamante)
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