Cuenca’s supply of low-cost rentals is being squeezed by thousands of foreigners moving to the city.
Most of the new arrivals are from Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina, and North Americans and many are looking for rentals. “The pressure on affordable housing is greater than we have ever seen it,” says Cuenca real estate agent Jorge Jaramillo. “It is getting very difficult to find good rentals for less than $350 a month and there are more and more newcomers entering the market every day.”
Venezuelans make up the largest group of new arrivals, according to Jaramillo. “They are leaving their country because of bad economic conditions and although most of them are well-educated, they have lost their life’s savings are cannot afford to pay high rents,” he says.
According to José Briceño, vice president of the Corazón Vino migrants’ network, the number of Venezuelans in Cuenca is growing rapidly with no let-up in sight. “A year ago there were 1,000, possible 1,500, Venezuelan citizens in Cuenca. Today, the number is close to 4,000,” says. He adds that his group is in discussion with city officials about housing for new Venezuelan arrivals but says he doesn’t see the rental housing market improving in the near future.
“We see many cases were 10 or more family members and friends are crowding into small apartments and houses,” says Briceño, who came to Cuenca 10 years ago from Venezuela. “They cannot afford expensive housing. Many of them are looking for work.”
“Hundreds of low cost housing units are under construction but most of them will be for sale when they’re completed,” says Jaramillo. “There is a desperate need for more low-cost rentals and I don’t see many being added to the market.”
He adds that construction is reactivating in Cuenca following a multi-year slump but says most of the new housing will be for middle-income buyers and renters. “This will be good for Cuencanos and North Americans but not for other groups.”