The magnitude 8.8 earthquake, and subsequent tsunami, which struck the south central region of Chile on February 27, 2010, affected 75% of the population of the country and damaged or destroyed 370,000 housing units (about 10% of the housing in 6 regions). Within 6 months, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development published a plan to repair or rebuild 220,000 units of low- and middle-income housing with government assistance within four years. In October 2012, at the midpoint of a 4-year program, 84% of those housing units have started construction and 54% are complete and occupied. Several factors contribute to the program’s success: (1) strong leadership at the national and local levels; (2) use of existing programs and institutions; (3) flexibility to adapt programs over time; (4) a strong technical staff; (5) a robust economy; and (6) political will. When compared to housing recovery programs in other countries, Chile’s program stands out, combining both top-down strong government management and bottom-up citizen participation. The reconstruction plan also included goals for improved design and construction of social condominiums, updated zoning plans, road and infrastructure improvements, heritage recovery, and new master plans for impacted cities. While the housing reconstruction will be completed within the four-year time frame, the master plans require a longer implementation time. Going forward, the earthquake may have a legacy far beyond the successful housing replacement. Chile’s efforts to use the recovery planning efforts to expand national urban policy will help to provide a larger planning framework at the local level where citizens can participate in the physical, social and economic decisions necessary for ongoing community development.
Keywords: Housing, Recovery, Urban Planning, Reconstruction
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