Integrated Development for Sustainable Communities (DINCS)

There are few successful models that combine access to housing for low-income families with access to social infrastructure, community empowerment and basic social services such as education and health. Through its work, the Mario Santo Domingo Foundation (FMSD) has gained significant experience in social interest housing programs, concentrating most of its current operation in the development of 2 of the largest housing projects in Colombia in Barranquilla (Villas de San Pablo) and Cartagena (Ciudad del Bicentenario). In these projects the FMSD developed an innovative model aimed at going beyond simply providing houses to developing a sustainable community. This model is entitled Integrated Development for Sustainable Communities, (DINCS, the Spanish acronym).

The DINCS model focuses on providing the community with social, economic and environmental capital. The FMSD partners with the national and local governments to ensure access to housing (via subsidies and microcredit) and to social infrastructure, such as schools and health and early childhood centers. In tandem with local governments it facilitates its empowerment via the establishment of participatory mechanisms, and support on project design and implementation, with an emphasis on income generation strategies. 

The DINCS model complements the so-called Macroprojects of National Interest (MISN). The Macroprojects are a legal and operational framework that allows the Colombian national government to partner with local governments in the development of large-scale housing projects, targeted mostly at low-income families. The framework facilitates access to land, and ensures that the necessary infrastructure, transportation facilities and recreation areas are in place. The framework also allows for the channeling of government (both national and local) subsidies. In the case of the FMSD, families benefit from inclusive financial products e.g. micro loans, to ensure they can pay the deposit necessary to secure closing. The FMSD projects have the potential to provide more than 40.000 houses. 

The DINCS model is the centerpiece of FMSD’s strategy to not only tackle the housing deficit in Colombia but more importantly, to develop communities in an organized, participatory/inclusive, comprehensive and sustainable way.

Participation is promoted via the establishment of participatory mechanisms such as the Junta de Acción Comunal (JAC), and community committees. These organizations are in charge of the design and implementation of a local development plan: the road map of the community towards its social development. The FMSD supports representatives of the communities in developing projects design and provide fundraising strategies in coordination with local governments. The FMSD also supports leadership development within the communities.

The integrated development model requires the establishment of the necessary social infrastructure such as schools, health, early childhood, cultural and sports centers, technological facilities etc. This comprehensive approach helps ensure diversity and inclusion, as the model requires that families living in the Macroprojects come from different socio economic groups to ensure positive socio-economic dynamics e.g. avoiding ghettos.

Sustainability is reached through community ownership of the development process, the strengthening of the communities social and environmental capital, and by ensuring the development of local markets e.g. enabling the community to both export and import goods, thereby avoiding crowding out (Haussman). This implies that each family has its own source of income generation,  and that the community is able to leverage investments.  This is possible mainly because the model includes the establishment of a social fund which receives profits and revenues from the construction and selling of the houses donated from the FMSD to the community. This funds allow the community to leverage funds from public, private, and/or international sources for the implementation of its local development plan.