Mexico's public housing program dates from 1938. A 1946 law permitted credit institutions to finance low-rent projects and create a housing bank. Each of two large projects built during the 1940s and 1950s—the President Alemán Urban Center (completed in 1950) and the President Juárez Urban Center (completed in 1952), both in Mexico City—contains a school, a playground, and stores.
Government agencies that have fostered the development of low-income housing include the Fund for Housing Operations and Bank Discounts, the National Public Works and Services Bank, the Housing Credit Guarantee and Support Fund, and the National Housing Institute. In 1974, the National Workers' Housing Fund Institute (Instituto del Fondo Nacional de la Vivienda para los Trabajadores—INFONAVIT) was created to provide housing for workers. With funds provided by employers (equal to 5% of the total salary of each worker), INFONAVIT makes direct loans to employees and provides short-term loans to finance the construction of approved multi-unit projects, which are then sold to employees covered by the program. All these efforts, however, have not come close to eradicating Mexico's housing shortage, which had been exacerbated by accelerated population growth in the 1980s. The government allocated US $1.93 billion in 1989 to build 250,000 low-cost housing units, and expected to receive an additional US $700 million from the World Bank to build more. The 1990 National Housing Plan predicted a shortage of 6.1 million homes, to be felt most severely in the outskirts of urban areas, including Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterey, and cities in the northern states.
In 2000, there were about 21,954,733 housing units; about 85% were detached homes. Most dwellings are privately owned; about 84% have running water and 78% have access to sewage services.