To date, nearly 6,300 homes have been delivered under the programme

To date, nearly 6,300 homes have been delivered under the programme

Nearly 6,300 families of maquila (textile) workers have benefited from a housing programme implemented under the Honduras 2020 development plan.

The maquila industry is one of Honduras's main export and employment generators and comprises almost 260 companies operating in 16 industrial parks. One of the goals of the Honduras 2020 programme is to build 50,000 affordable homes in sustainable communities by 2020 through improved policies, access to financing and urban planning.

To date, nearly 6,300 houses have been delivered, with workers receiving grants of up to US$3,800 to put down a payment on affordable homes costing $25,000 or less. These families generally have household incomes less than four times the minimum wage.

"Maquilas are key drivers of the Honduran economy, so the quality of life of workers in this sector is a top priority," says Ramfiz Rodríguez, international promotion and communication manager of Honduras 2020. "By providing dignified, affordable housing in gated communities previously reserved for middle and upper-class Hondurans, and by locating this housing adjacent to workplaces, we will be helping workers invest in their futures, spend more time with their families and derive greater satisfaction from their work."

The housing sector is one of the main pillars of the Honduras 2020 plan, a public-private partnership to stimulate economic development with 600,000 additional jobs and $13bn in investment by 2020. Although aimed at multiple sectors, apparel and textiles are one of the strategic pillars, with aims to almost double apparel exports and production, as well as attract and facilitate investment in the sector.

Among the housing initiative's first developments are the Green Valley gated community near Quimistán Industrial Park, 27 miles west of the San Pedro Sula industrial hub; and Villas San Juan in Choloma, Honduras's third-largest city, near the Altia Industrial Park and other major manufacturing and service hubs.

Built in gated communities that include recreational areas, parks and schools, the developments also include basic services such as drinking water, electric power, sewage, paved streets and security, sports facilities, places of worship, and easy access to public transport.

Honduras is making an aggressive push with its 2020 programme to attract new textile and apparel industry investment – with the goal of becoming the Americas' leading exporter of synthetic yarns and activewear. The target is to surpass Indonesia and Mexico to become the US's fifth most important apparel provider – up from its current position at number seven.

Plans include improved logistics infrastructure at the Port of Cortes (Puerto Cortés) – the only deep water port in Central America and the first in Latin America with CSI and Megaport certifications from the US government. Puerto Cortés is being expanded to double its cargo management capacity to more than 1.2m twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), according to Honduras 2020.

New airports, highways, industrial parks, build-to suit manufacturing facilities to add capacity and capability, and renewable energy plants, are also envisaged.

Honduras sets sights on hike in activewear exports