“It’s falling down.” This was the answer I invariably received when I asked the residents of Old and Central Havana about their homes.
These photographs are born from my desire to see what living inside the crumbling grandeur of Havana’s buildings looks like. I knocked on doors and begged permission to photograph the residents and the interiors of their homes. I photographed inside almost a hundred different homes. Most of the homes I visited are in Old Havana.
Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. Since this date many key buildings have been restored and the work continues but the emphasis is always on preserving buildings rather than improving or saving the lives of the general population. While certain buildings are done up to a high standard the vast majority of the homes remain in a dangerous state.
Age, decay, neglect, over-crowding and amateur repairs combine with natural factors to threaten the stability of Havana’s Baroque, Neoclassical and Art Deco buildings. There are two or three partial or total building collapses in Old and Central Havana every week. Residents have no choice but to continue to live in buildings that have partially collapsed.
Cuba has a high life expectancy, a 99.8% literacy rate, free education at every level and free health care for all its citizens, but the government still struggles to provide citizens with safe and comfortable housing.