User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 
A woman hangs her laundry from the balcony of her colonial-era apartment in Havana 3 July,  2011

Much of Cuba's housing stock is in a bad state of disrepair

Private property sales are about to make a comeback in Cuba for the first time since they were outlawed by the government after the 1959 revolution.
The BBC's Michael Voss meets one couple desperate for a place of their own.

Mario Perez and Lilian Carballo were married for 11 years before they broke up about 12 months ago.

They still see each other every day. But out of necessity, not choice.

Their story is not unusual in Cuba, where divorced couples stay under the same roof because they have nowhere to move to.

And it is not uncommon for three generations to live together in a tiny apartment.

Cuba, with its population of 11 million people, has a shortfall of about 500,000 homes. Much of the existing housing stock is run-down and in need of repair.

The Communist Party Congress in April agreed in principle to allow people to start buying and selling homes and cars.

Mario Perez and Lilian Carballo
 
Mario and Lilian would like to be able to finally live apart

Now the government has started fleshing out some of the details and says that the changes should be in place by the end of the year.

"It's difficult living together, " said Lilian.

"Everyone has their own habits; some are tidier than others. It's OK when you are in love but afterwards such things become really annoying."

By Cuban standards, Mario and Lilian's first-floor flat is relatively spacious with a small balcony off the living room. They share a tiny kitchen and bathroom but do have separate bedrooms.

It was a relatively amicable divorce and at least they remain on speaking terms. The pressure, though, is hard to bear.

"It's all about respect. I can have a girlfriend but I can't bring her home just as she can't bring a boyfriend here. It's one of the conditions we jointly agreed on, " said Mario, a jazz and rock drummer who is struggling to make ends meet.

Read More from the source on the BBC website here