REYNOSA, Tamaulipas – The head of the Department of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development (SEDATU) says $8 billion pesos will be allocated in 2019 to urban improvement, infrastructure, housing and renovation of property in15 cities across the country, ten of which are in the northern border area.

Román Meyer Falcón made the announcement while visiting Reynosa with the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The investment is part of the new Free Zone on the Northern Border program.

López Obrador announced an investment of $650 million pesos for urban renovation and support for colonies “marginalized” in Reynosa.

Meyer explained that the cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, San Luis Rio Colorado, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Acuña, Piedras Negras, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros are included in a budget of $8 billion pesos that will be used for the improvement of urban environment, basic infrastructure and public spaces.

Meyer explained that in addition to actions to improve housing and regularization of property, support will be provided so that the aforementioned cities have or authorize their instruments of land use and urban development.

“We want cities where people live in safe spaces, with safe parks and nearby squares, schools and workplaces. We want cities with quality public transport and insurance. We do not want scattered cities. Therefore, we are looking to invest in the areas of greatest marginalization of these cities to balance their urban development,” Meyer said.

He claimed that through the Free Zone on the Northern Border program, a foundation would be laid for people to have an equitable access to an urban environment for their families, working in parallel with other agencies, such as Infonavit.

Meyer explained that he will work with Infonavit on two fronts. Namely, the recovery of abandoned homes in the area and the development of housing in conjunction with new companies seeking to settle in the region.

He stressed that the presentation of this program is a fundamental part in the development of this region. “This program will lay the foundations for Mexicans to have work and well-being and not seek to emigrate to the United States,” Meyer said.

Meyer said the Northern Border program poses challenges to all the actors involved, since each one will have to assume the responsibility that corresponds to them. “From the SEDATU, we know that in terms of urban development, the economic benefits and fiscal stimulus of the program will have strong territorial impacts.”

He noted that currently about eight million people live in the northern border of the country, 80 percent of whom are concentrated in ten cities.

“The opportunities that are generated in this area were not shared equally. On the contrary, the economic growth of the region occurred in a way that was exclusive to certain types of industries and services,” Meyer said.

He said inequality is also reflected in the lack of development of some areas, with cities growing without guaranteeing that all people could live in a quality environment with public services and open spaces.

The federal official said that an example of inequality is the hundreds of homes that were built in the peripheral zone of cities such as Reynosa. “These homes are located at a distance from the work centers without having quality public transport. In some cases they are located in areas of risk and in places that should never have been approved housing projects,” Meyer said.

Meyer said the previous urban development model failed. By way of illustration he cited INEGI statistics showing an estimated five million abandoned homes throughout the country, half of which are in the northern border states. He said they are particularly prevalent in Mexicali Ciudad Juárez, Matamoros and Reynosa.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Román Meyer Falcón, Mexico’s secretary of the Department of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development.