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Los Habaneros 2
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
12 Sep 2013

A dancer cuddles her puppy in her one-room apartment. The cracked and sagging marble floor is typical sight in buildings throughout Havana. Despite the acute shortage of living space in Havana, most people have at least one pet. Dogs are particularly popular. Pets are considered part of the family and are treated with love and respect.

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Los Habaneros 1
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

Inside the home of four elderly brothers in Old Havana. The youngest of four brothers is enjoying a cigarette at the ground floor apartment his family has lived in for four generations. The apartment has electricity and basic plumbing, but water infiltration into the ceilings and walls has caused great damage.

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Los Habaneros 22
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

A young couple and their baby live in this small apartment that has heavy damage due to the water infiltration. Their belongings are moldy and it is no longer safe to use anything electrical at the apartment. The family are considering moving into the already crowded home of some relatives.

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Los Habaneros 3
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

An elderly lady points toward a portrait of revolutionary, Camilo Cienfuegos. This 78-year-old woman shares two small rooms with her son. The original stairs to their home collapsed completely and were replaced by a four meter-high, rickety, homemade staircase. Ten years ago, this woman fell down these stairs and broke her shoulder, hip and all of her front teeth.

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Los Habaneros 4
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

A young woman in her kitchen. The floor of the landing in front of this apartment has caved in and large marble slabs have fallen down to the hallway below. The couple who lives in this apartment have to walk carefully along the edge of the landing to get to their front door. They have no running water and have to carry buckets of water across the dangerous landing.

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Los Habaneros
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

The room where this woman lives has no windows or any other ventilation, so she keeps her door open whenever she is at home. She is seen here standing just outside her room.

She said she wasn't worried about her safety at night because her neighbours also had their doors open and they would hear if anything untoward happened.

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Housing in Havana 2
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

Fuse boxes in the entrance of a building in Old Havana. These worn and out-dated fuse boxes are very dangerous and can be seen in the entrances of most of the buildings in Havana.

Residents rarely have the means to call in professionals to fix things in their homes. They are forced to use whatever materials they can find to make repairs and they take risks trying to repair electrical malfunctions.

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Housing in Havana 1
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

A crumbling ceiling and staircase in Old Havana.

Neither the Cuban state nor the people have money for repairs and this lack of money has played a major part in the critical state of the buildings. Nicholas Quintana, a Cuban-born professor of architecture at Florida International University, said that the neglect of Havana's architecture was politically motivated and that it represented the work of the republic and, as such, Fidel wanted to see it eliminated. Other experts in architecture say that half a century of communist rule and embargos have indirectly saved the capital's architecture from developers, even though the lack of money for repairs has taken a terrible toll.

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Los Habaneros 6
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

A cabaret performer dressing in his one-room home in Old Havana. As well as performing in clubs, he also teaches salsa to tourists.

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Los Habaneros 7
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

Although the building where this man lives is as unstable as most buildings in Old Havana, he has family in Miami who help with the costs of keeping his small apartment in relatively good condition. Cubans with family members abroad often have the latest flat screen televisions and other appliances in their homes. These items are unaffordable to most Cubans and they are not generally for sale in shops in Cuba.

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Los Habaneros 18
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

A man smoking with friends in his one room home in Old Havana, combining two of the favorite pass-times in Cuba - socialising and smoking.

More than half of Cuban adults smoke and lung cancer is a major cause of death on the island. The government is working at increasing regulations on advertising and sales of cigarettes and, as of January 2014, smoking has been banned in public places. Time will tell whether or not this new ban will be enforced.

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Los Habaneros 19
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

A young man reflected in a bedroom mirror at his home in Old Havana. This man shares two small rooms with his boy-friend in this crumbling house in Old Havana.

Pre-revolution, Cuba had strict laws that criminalised homosexuality. However private, non-commercial sexual relations between same-sex consenting adults 16 and over have been legal in Cuba since 1979.

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Housing in Havana 25
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

A communal hallway of a house in Old Havana. These loose hanging wires can be seen in most of the buildings of Old and Central Havana.

Neither the Cuban state nor the people have money for repairs and this lack of money has played a major part in the critical state of the buildings. Nicholas Quintana, a Cuban-born professor of architecture at Florida International University, said that the neglect of Havana's architecture was politically motivated and that it represented the work of the republic and, as such, Fidel wanted to see it eliminated. Other experts in architecture say that half a century of communist rule and embargos have indirectly saved the capital's architecture from developers, even though the lack of money for repairs has taken a terrible toll.

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Los Habaneros 5
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

This lady shares her apartment with her daughter and grandchildren. Although the apartment allows in more air and is brighter than most, it can only be accessed by a crumbling staircase.

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Los Habaneros 9
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

This woman's one-room home is immaculately clean and tidy. She has to share a bathroom and kitchen with three different families and her room is accessed by climbing a crumbling staircase.

Like many elderly Cuban ladies she carefully stores and displays her personal mementos. She was very keen to show me her vast collection of old family photographs as well as newspaper cuttings of Fidel Castro.

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Los Habaneros 10
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

This man whose wife died recently now lives alone in this roomy house in Old Havana. He is struggling with his loss but does his best to get up every day and to keep his house tidy. The house has all its original features, but it’s damp and the electrics and plumbing are very rudimentary.

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Housing in Havana 21
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

Catholic icons and images adorn the walls of most homes in Cuba. The dangerous wiring is also typical of homes in Havana. The people don't have the means to repair their homes properly.

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Los Habaneros 11
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

This woman enjoys the good lighting and ventilation due to the large street-level windows. Her windows, like most street-level windows in Havana, are barred for security.

Like most Cubans, she is very sociable and she has a constant stream of friends stopping by to talk and to swap rations.

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Housing in Havana
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

This fish tank belongs to a cobbler who lives and works in this partially collapsed building. In 2011 part of the building collapsed. Fortunately no one was hurt. The residents continue to live in what is left of the very unstable building. Although the residents have been advised to leave the building, they have no where else to go.

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Los Habaneros 8
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

An elderly woman in Old Havana reminisces about her younger days. She lives alone in two tiny but immaculate rooms. Like most people in Havana, she is rarely alone for long as her neighbours visit often. Cubans have a great sense of community and are friendly and supportive of each other.

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Housing in Havana 5
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

This small room was designed for storage but it is now being used as a communal kitchen for the three families who live on the ground floor of this house.

Gas hobs are frequently left alight all day as gas is subsidised and is cheaper than the cost of matches.

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Housing in Havana 14
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

Paintings and photographs depicting key figures and moments of the revolution are still very popular among the older members of the population in Cuba. The younger generation are more interested in contemporary, Cuban and international, art and popular culture.

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Los Habaneros 20
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

An elderly lady spends most of her day in her wheelchair in her covered courtyard because her tiny room has no light or air circulation.

According to the Communist Party daily newspaper Granma, Cuba's healthcare system is facing the urgent challenge of increasing its network of nursing homes and geriatricians to serve its aging population, given that the country will be among those with the oldest populations by 2050. Currently, 18.3 percent of the Cuban public is over age 60, and this represents more than two million of the island's 11.2 million citizens.

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Housing in Havana 19
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

Authentic tiles in a communal hallway.

Neither the Cuban state nor the people have money for repairs and this lack of money has played a major part in the critical state of the buildings. Nicholas Quintana, a Cuban-born professor of architecture at Florida International University, said that the neglect of Havana's architecture was politically motivated and that it represented the work of the republic and, as such, Fidel wanted to see it eliminated. Other experts in architecture say that half a century of communist rule and embargos have indirectly saved the capital's architecture from developers, even though the lack of money for repairs has taken a terrible toll.

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Housing in Havana 13
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

In the home of an elderly lady, Old Havana.

Religious icons and symbols are displayed in the majority of Cuban homes.

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Housing in Havana 11
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

Mould and humidity are a problem in most of the houses in Havana. This creates an unhealthy environment that increases the risk of respiratory and skin infections for those that live in these conditions.

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Housing in Havana 7
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

Paint never lasts very long because of the humidity in the walls. Most Cubans love and have an instinctive understanding of colour. Although their homes are usually in a very poor state, they are decorated with flair.

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Los Habaneros 15
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

Two elderly brothers in their home that is very damp and has a mould issue. Although the house is quite spacious the plumbing is very basic. The brothers were born in this house and have always lived here. Neither brother married and they have no children.

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Housing in Havana 23
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

Most homes in Cuba have a Santeria shrine. The walls in this room are marked by a combination of mould and smoke from the almost constantly lit candles.

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Housing in Havana 9
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

A staircase that is close to collapse in an Old Havana house.

Neither the government nor the people have the money to repair and care for the buildings and this is the main reason why Havana's Baroque, Neoclassical and Art Deco buildings haven't been modified and the city is of such historical importance. Old Havana is was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. Since this date many buildings have been restored and the work continues but the emphasis is always on preserving key 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.

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Housing in Havana
Havana, Cuba
By Transterra Editor
10 Sep 2013

“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 originated from my desire to see what it looks like to living inside some of the crumbling grandeur of Havana’s buildings. I knocked on doors and begged for 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 making the lives of the general population easier. While certain buildings are restored to a higher standard, the vast majority of the homes remain in a dangerous condition.

Age, decay, neglect, over-crowding and amateur repairs combined with natural factors 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.

Despite the condition of the buildings, most of the homes I visited were filled with personal, social, cultural and religious clues about their occupants. Most were also filled with vibrant colours, mementos, belongings, beloved pets and human warmth and spirit.

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Housing in Havana 31
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
09 Sep 2013

A man trying to figure out why the electricity isn't working in his apartment. Residents rarely have the means to call in professionals to fix things in their homes. They are forced to use whatever materials they can find to make repairs and they take risks trying to repair electrical malfunctions.

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Housing in Havana 16
Havana
By Alison McCauley
09 Sep 2013

When the young woman who lives in this small appartment moved out from her family home in Guantánamo province, she bought this parrot with her for company. Unfortunately she now has no space in her apartment other than the windowless toilet to keep his cage.

The young woman is working hard buying clothing and accessories from wholesalers and then selling the goods to individuals. She has been able to pay her rent and she is slowly saving some money to take back to her family in Guantánamo province.

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Los Habaneros 14
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
09 Sep 2013

Three friends who are sharing a room with one other friend. The two men standing had small roles in a Spanish movie, filmed in Cuba, in the 1990's. They are proud of this and still refer to each other jokingly by they on-screen names. They were well paid but they spent all the money in the months after the filming ended on having a good time.