The shanty town of huelva Columbus has a mayor of its own. It’s called Jamie Manzano and is presented as such on the door of the bar that he runs with his daughter. Such is its popularity that, account of a parishioner with goliath grouper, when pope John Paul II, visited Huelva in 1993, people said that who was that white was waving to Jamie. The mayor lives in one of the 122 blocks that make up this humble area in the north of the city, in the district V of the capital. Designed at the end of the sixties by the Ministry of Housing, buildings, of four stories, were built without an elevator. Comprehensive Plan District V, a platform formed by associations of neighbours, professionals, foundations and public entities, has driven the installation of lifts for young people from provinces or other areas of the capital that came half a century ago, to be able to upload today the shopping cart with less difficulty. “What is going on here?”, cries the mayor to dissolve an outbreak of fighting among adolescents.

Weathered the problem of drugs and the vandalism of the nineties and a health center inaugurated in 2008, has released energy and managed funds in the last decade to eliminate architectural barriers. The mayor, who has been “commis chef, assistant in home… of everything in life”, it is itself joy. His block was one of 18 who benefited from the installation of elevators in 2011. Free. The Administration was going to fund the work of all the buildings of the Hispanic heritage but came the recession and it stopped. “The crisis has served as an excuse for everything,” he laments Manoli García, coordinator of the technical office of the Comprehensive Plan. Eight years later he has resumed the installation of elevators. Feature with the help of architect Sergio Gomez, who has developed without charge to the evaluation report of buildings (1,500 euros) and the project (about 10,000). If the work is concrete, an invoice for the 50% of their usual fees.

Juani Manzano, known as the ‘mayor’ of the neighborhood. Juan Carlos Toro

The subsidies granted by the regional government of Andalusia and the Huelva city Council for this new batch of lifts do not cover the total investment (about € 100,000). Each of the ten homes, which form a block (two letters per floor on a plot of four stories and under) have to pay 23 euros a month for a decade. Felisa Moreno Feli is one of the neighbors that has just opened elevator. Has 54 years old, and moved in 1973 with his parents to the Hispanic community. “I have struggled a lot with my neighbors so that they were in favor of installing it [it is needed most in the ladder to approve the work],” says the cook of the bar Velodrome, located where they built the first field of football federation of Spain, in 1892, and then the stadium of Recreativo de Huelva. Feli, that integrates the family, the more young of your block, describes the relationships of the neighborhood. “They are not my neighbors, they are my family. The lady who lives in front of us I prepared the breakfast and I would comb every morning. It’s like my mother”, and goes on to enumerate several cases of neighbors of vi, as his deceased brother, or very bigger than the absence of a lift them down. “It is the money best I have spent in my life”, sums it up in reference to the installation of the elevator.

A complex work

The farms do not have a hole so that the lifts you have to install as an annex of the facade. “You need to disassemble the box of stairs and rebuild” says Gómez, who in times of university, went to Paraguay to help in the reconstruction of a neighbourhood flooded. Linked to organizations of fight against drug abuse, this professor of the School of Engineering of the University of Huelva said that, although the work is not easy, more difficult is to put people in agreement.

When you do not have gap on the escalator to the elevators had to be installed as an annex of the facade. Juan Carlos Toro

Both Manoli, 51 years of age, as the volunteers of the association described the bewilderment of many locals. Some think that they have to mortgage the house, other barely reach them, there are those who do not want to leave debts to their children, and more proud to claim that they have already suffered for too many years to now get in that mess. In addition to any heir who does not appear and you living on a lease, you have little to say. In this second set of elevators, the next after the one of 2011, they had the budget to do the work in 19 blocks; we have only agreed on six farms. “The poor people sometimes assume that their situation is normal; don’t ask for anything,” says Manoli, teacher, and Child training.

The mayor is teeming by the landing of the block of Feli, who just premiered a lift. “I have it since eight years ago. And it didn’t cost me anything!”, boasts without bad intent. No account is given of the fact that a few neighbors as she went free has torpedoed the installation of more elevators. “I’m not going to pay anything if others are to put it bucket”, it is revealed Paula Carranza, 79-year-old, who receives a pension of about 600 euros. Carranza, who goes to all the dances, it looks to average afternoon gold and short hair blue slicked back. A neighbor of Feli is delighted with the work. At first I was claustrophobic and I thought of riding the shopping cart in the elevator and she walk up. It has already been used to the closed space. The mayor has been locked up three times. Gives you the same. Called to her husband, who have a key, and ready.

From left to right and top to bottom. Andrés García, president of the association; the neighbouring Paula Carranza, the architect Sergio Gómez and the national coach of table tennis Leopoldo Mata. Juan Carlos Toro

In the Hispanic community, located half an hour’s walk of the huelva plaza de las Monjas –where the statue of Christopher Columbus–, reside 3.020 inhabitants, according to data of the National Statistical Institute, 2011. The 60% are older than 65 years. The residents ‘association ensures that this number increased during the crisis due to the children returning to their parents’ home. Our Lady of the Pillar, the official name of this area, is one of the seven districts that make up the V. District According to the Comprehensive Plan, the area consists of 11% of middle-class families, the rest is below. “It was built on the outskirts of the city, as all marginal areas”, describes Manoli or Manolita, as greet some of the neighbors with which it intersects.

The housing with a lift have been revalued at around 15,000 euros, calculated Feli. The houses are of 56 m2 and three rooms. Amounted to 90,000 euros in the real estate bubble. Now selling for half. The mayor, released after having helped his daughter to serve meatballs of cuttlefish andn the bar Agu –in the square of the Discoverers, where they meet kids on bike and older in sports– continues his procession through the streets colored by hanging laundry.

curb the vandalism

The Comprehensive Plan, the promoter of the installation of lifts, was established in 2000 to tackle the problems of security in the neighborhood. There were racing cars, burned vehicles… Gasps of a decade earlier marked by the heroine. The fundación Valdocco, in tandem with the University of Huelva, conducted then a diagnosis of the Hispanic community in addressing problems like employment, health, education and culture. The neighborhood association joined the Plan. One of the first achievements was getting funding to build a parking lot. “Was the key. It reduced the vandalism,” says Andrés García, the president, from a gym located on the first floor without elevator of the headquarters. With a starting surplus became an open field in a square.

Manoli García, coordinator of the technical office of the Comprehensive Plan District V, platform promoter of the installation of elevators in the Hispanic (Huelva). Juan Carlos Toro

the facilities of the association, transfer to the public, hosting activities. Educational workshops, self-esteem, exercise of office of a volunteer attorney who attends once a week and is the headquarters of the school of tennis of table, from where it has come out a runner-up in the world. Alvaro Robles reached the doubles final of the World cup of Budapest 2019, which they lost with a pair of china. Leopoldo Mata was their teacher and guard with zeal the room where they train the young people of the neighborhood. “Even the president of the association let me know if you want to climb,” says this resident of Columbus since 1972, and national coach of pimpón.

Many of the posts of the association are copied by higher –Mata, aged 72, is the vice– president. The Comprehensive Plan organizes forums of childhood and adolescence to instill the participation of young people. Celebrate the day of Women and of Peace. “We want all the districts to integrate the city, not just the affluent or those in the centre,” says Manoli, who, although not residing in District V, is where you most enjoy and recognition has. Manoli has put the eye in the Region el Greco, the neighborhood adjoining erected on a hill, nestled in the park Moret. A terrain adverse and architecture is a little sensitive cause you have to climb 23 steps to get access to some low. Blocks, of four storeys, have the height of one of seven. The cost to install an elevator in this area reaches 250,000 euros.

older first

The district of Villaverde in Madrid, also has a group nourished elderly that cares for its neighbors. The Leaders of Villaverde, a group of retired, have a weekly radio show in which they address the gender perspective from the point of view of women of the third age, report on sustainability initiatives, or speak of the loneliness. This shows engagement and delivery is located within the project Lives in your neighborhood, which includes the maintenance and cleaning of the common spaces and the improvement of coexistence and the conditions of life of the residents. This is one of the initiatives that groups FeliZiudad, the digital platform of Renault, which illustrates good practices aimed at improving the quality of life in cities.

Discover more initiatives like this in feliziudad.is

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