Back to Home English
Program for the Recovery of Neighborhoods: Chile

Program to improve the quality of life in vulnerable neighborhoods and strengthen civic engagement

July 19, 2023
Author: Paula Sevilla Núñez

The Program for the Recovery of Neighborhoods—originally named Quiero Mi Barrio (“I Love My Neighborhood”) or PQMB—aims to improve the quality of life of residents through public investment in public spaces, infrastructure, and social centers. The projects in each neighborhood are monitored by a Neighborhood Development Council elected by residents. Since its inception in 2006, PQMB has extended to over 700 neighborhoods across Chile. Studies show that residents have expressed satisfaction with the quality of public spaces, cleanliness, and improved security.

In the early 2000s, it was estimated that about 1.7 million people in Chile lived in neighborhoods without access to public spaces or road infrastructure. Neighborhoods on the periphery of cities had been experiencing severe decline in the quality of life due to low accessibility to public spaces and transport, exposure to environmental hazards like dump sites and pollution, and deterioration or lack of green areas and public spaces. These neighborhoods also experienced low levels of social cohesion, including through increased crime and drug trafficking.1

The main objectives of the Quiero Mi Barrio Program (PQMB) are to recover these deteriorated public spaces, improve environmental conditions, and strengthen social cohesion in vulnerable neighborhoods—defined as lacking critical infrastructure such as public spaces, roads, or social centers—in cities across Chile.2 In response, PQMB’s takes a holistic approach addressing five key areas: citizen participation, cultural heritage and identity, improvement of the environment, citizen security, and connectivity,3 all of which fall under two key categories:

  1. The urban pillar, represented by each neighborhood’s Works Management Plan (Plan de Gestión de Obras or PGO), focuses on tackling urban decline such as improving access to transport, paved roads, wells, or public lighting; building social infrastructure such as sports or communal centers; and the maintenance of green areas and public spaces.
  2. The social pillar, represented by the Social Management Plan (Plan de Gestión Social or PGS), aims to strengthen community engagement and social cohesion among neighborhood residents by developing participatory structures for the monitoring of the Program’s investments, and capacity building for community leaders.

The PGO and PGS are outlined in the Neighborhood Contract and are implemented by the Municipality, the Regional Officer of MINVU, and external consultants. However, the Neighborhood Development Council (CVD) composed of a minimum of fifteen members of society is also elected by residents of the neighborhood to represent their interests and lead the monitoring of the program.4 It is responsible for negotiating a Neighborhood Contract with representatives from the municipality and the Regional Officer of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MINVU) that outlines the objectives of the intervention, the implementation phases and costs, and responsibilities of the different parties involved.5 The signing of the contract is usually followed by an “Inaugural Milestone” or “Work of Confidence,” to formally initiate the program and secure fast credibility.6 Once the items of the PGO and PGS are executed, the CVD and the municipality undertake an evaluation of the results.7


In the early 2000s, Michelle Bachelet’s government agenda identified five thematic priorities, including improving the quality of life and fighting against discrimination and exclusion.8 This led to a shift in urban and housing policy, away from a strict focus on construction, to a holistic perspective on urban renewal.

In 2006, 200 pilot neighborhoods (ranging between 150 and 5,000 households) were chosen throughout the country in areas identified as priority (zonas prioritarias or ZP) by regional and municipal governments, and based on a series of indicators, which included high levels of overcrowding and low-quality housing, low school attendance, and concentration of unemployed youth.9 Following the pilot phase, from 2010 onwards, additional neighborhoods were selected through two mechanisms:

  • a national contest allowing municipalities to submit neighborhoods for consideration, as long as they were located in prioritized zones (ZP) and fill the requirements of urban degradation and social vulnerability; and
  • a process whereby regional ministerial officers could identify additional neighborhoods based on their data on housing conditions in neighborhoods.10


The National Congress (Chile’s Parliament) approves a budget that is distributed across the regions by the MINVU with spending caps per neighborhood. The yearly budget assigned to the program in 2023 was CLP 47.62 billion (or USD 58.7 million).11 The average expenditure was calculated at USD 39 per person for the urban pillar, and USD 9 per person for the social pillar.12


Since 2006, PQMB has been implemented in over 760 neighborhoods in 180 municipalities across Chile, and reached approximately 1.5 million residents.13 By 2016, 277 neighborhoods (about 53 percent) had graduated out of the program.14 Its inclusion into the Ministry’s overall urban policy has provided it with programmatic and budgetary sustainability.15

Perception studies in different neighborhoods have shown generally high levels of satisfaction among residents. Eighty six percent of residents in one survey said they are satisfied with the program, and 76 percent claimed to be proud of their neighborhood. They reported increased perceptions of security (from 25 to 37 percent) and of engagement in neighborhood activities (from 36 to 41 percent) between 2013 and 2016.16 Respondents of another survey in twelve neighborhoods associated the PQMB with improvements in the quality of public spaces (ranging from 56 to 93 percent), and considered the improvements to have  been sustained over time (between 65 and 98 percent).17 A physical evaluation of those 12 neighborhoods rated the maintenance of all infrastructure of the program above 0.73 (between 0 and 1, with 1 being the highest score).18

Despite positive perceptions of the program, the lack of baseline indicators on urban conditions makes it challenging to measure economic or physical improvements, and the heterogeneity of the neighborhood contracts complicates an assessment of the program overall. Criticisms of the program have included lack of coordination with other relevant actors such as health, education, or aid agencies,19 and the abrupt interruption of activities following the completion of some contracts, risking further deterioration of neighborhoods. 20

Photo: Antofagasta, Chile. ©Adobe Stock/mikael74
  • 1. Ministry of Housing and Urbanism (MINVU), “Neighborhood Recovery Programme ‘Quiero Mi Barrio’ (Chile)," 2008,
  • 2. “Neighborhood Recovery Programme ‘Quiero Mi Barrio’ (Chile),” Participedia, n.d.
  • 3. Ministry of Housing and Urbanism, “Quiero Mi Barriom” n.d.,
  • 4. "Neighborhood Recovery Programme ‘Quiero Mi Barrio’ (Chile).”
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. MINVU, “Neighborhood Recovery Programme ‘Quiero Mi Barrio’ (Chile).”
  • 7. Neighborhood Recovery Programme ‘Quiero Mi Barrio’ (Chile).”
  • 8. MINVU, “Neighborhood Recovery Programme ‘Quiero Mi Barrio’ (Chile).”
  • 9. Ministry of Housing and Urbanism (MINVU), “Informe Final de Evaluación, Evaluación Programas Gubernamentales (EPG): Programa Recuperación de Barrios,” 2017,
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. Ministry of Housing and Urbanism (MINVU), “Ley de Presupuestos Año 2023: Recuperación de Barrios,” 2023,
  • 12. MINVU, “Informe Final de Evaluación.”
  • 13. Government of Chile, “Minvu celebra los 15 años del Programa Quiero Mi Barrio que ha beneficiado a más de un millón 500 mil vecinos en todo Chile,” September 22, 2021,
  • 14. MINVU, “Informe Final de Evaluación.”
  • 15. Ibid.
  • 16. Ibid.
  • 17. Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CEDEUS), Office of the Executive Secretariat of the Neighborhood Recovery Program, Ministry of Housing and Urbanism (MINVU), “Sustentabilidad a Escala de Barrio: Re-Visitando el Programa Quiero Mi Barrio,” 2019,
  • 18. Ibid.
  • 19. Olave-Müller, Paola et al., “Considerations for an urban health perspective in Chile from the ‘Quiero mi Barrio’ Program,” Saúde Pública, 57 (2023):
  • 20. CEDEUS & MINVU, “Sustentabilidad a Escala de Barrio.”