housing for the masses: microbarrio monseñor espinosa, 1923

Microbarrio Monseñor Espinosa, 1923 • Barracas
Perdriel & California

Contrasting greatly with the previous complex, these semi-detached chalets are like a little piece of paradise. Also built with fundraising money from the Unión Popular Católica Argentina, land was donated by the Pereyra Iraola & Herrera Vega families. Gardens cut through 60 units in a cross shape, & note that this is not the size of a city block… but it’s about half of an overly large block. In fact, the odd shape is due to following the diagonal line of the existing layout. Designed by Carlos Cucullu, it has been wonderfully maintained & I would love to live there.

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housing for the masses: casa colectiva valentín alsina, 1919

Buenos Aires, Parque Patricios, Casa Colectiva Valentín Alsina, 1919

Inspired by the action of Azucena Butteler, numerous private & public schemes were proposed to acquire funds needed for housing projects. Some of the proposals were: government allocations directly controlled by Congress, a direct tax on Jockey Club members, or loans for low-income government employees underwritten by the Central Bank. It was finally decided that 75% of the Jockey Club’s profits from Thursday horse races were to be donated to a general housing construction fund. Money began to flow in, but how should the government use it?

housing for the masses: microbarrio san vicente de paul, 1912

Buenos Aires, Microbarrio San Vicente de Paul, 1912, Nueva Pompeya

Microbarrio San Vicente de Paul, 1912 • Nueva Pompeya Cachí & Traful

Social assistance in Argentina was not limited to private donations like that of Azucena Butteler. One important group did as much as all other organizations combined —the Catholic church. Under the guidance of the Unión Popular Católica Argentina, nationwide fundraising drives gave Catholic organizations lots of cash to assist the poor. The government highly valued their contribution, mainly administered by women’s groups.

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housing for the masses: barrio butteler, 1910

One of the things that has always impressed me about Argentina is their commitment to social welfare. Before the onslaught of comments to the contrary, hear me out. Without question, you can find lots of examples of the oligarchy looking out for itself, plenty of internal conflicts that jeopardized social welfare, & certainly a lot of work left to be done at present. But the average citizen’s standard of living has been a big concern during 20th-century Argentine history.