“Approximately 70 percent of the apartments I found were in dollars and 30 percent in pesos.”
“They want us to feel we are in a lower class because we can’t pay for housing in dollars”, said Julia Carrizoza a 64-year-old woman who has rented in downtown Tijuana for four decades.
When she arrived in the 1980s, all rents in the city were in dollars, but “back then the dollar was more commonly used, and usually, you got paid in dollars,” she said. Now, most Tijuana citizens get paid in pesos, but when they need to rent in neighborhoods close to the border, they have to pay in dollars.
This has caused polarity in the population, according to Oliver Zamudio, inhabitant of the city with a master’s degree in gentrification. “For sure there are some who feel resentment against this inequality, but there are others who want Mexican-Americans to come here because it is the base of their income.”
He said that Tijuana started to be an option for U.S citizens to live since 2008 when the housing crisis happened. We are now seeing the effects as more people choose to live in Tijuana because they can’t afford rent in the United States.
This phenomenon has displaced people that earn pesos such as Angel Salas, who used to live in an apartment close to downtown. He couldn’t keep renting because the owners switched his payment from pesos to dollars.
“One day my landlord told me there was new owners, but I never saw it coming... The third month is when they switched the price to 200 dollars and the next month, they increased it to 250,” Angel said.
From paying 2500 pesos at the beginning, something like 130 dollars at the time, he ended up paying 3700 pesos monthly. “In my head I was able to keep paying, but obviously I wasn’t able. I realized that when I couldn’t even pay utilities. Once I went one month without paying the internet”.
For Pedro Carrillo, another Mexican that can’t afford housing in dollars, getting a house in pesos was complicated. He said that he had never paid rent in dollars and because of that, sometimes it took him three months to find a house in pesos. “Approximately 70 percent of the apartments I found were in dollars and 30 percent in pesos.”
Tijuana neighborhoods that generally rent in dollars include Playas de Tijuana, Independencia, Pancho Villa, Castillo, Altamira, Zona Centro (downtown), Zona Rio. But also neighborhoods bit far from the border as Morelos, Buena Vista, Libertad, Postal, Ruiz Cortinez.
Those generally still renting in pesos include most of the rest of the city, for example, 5 y 10, La Mesa, 20 de Noviembre, Sanchez Taboada, Buenos Aires, Florido, Mariano Matamoros, La Morita, and Los Pinos
“It is something that is getting out of control and it is an injustice. It is very favorable to those who earn dollars, since the property taxes on land are in pesos,” Pedro pointed out. Like him, Julia refers that “It is very unequal. Mexican-Americans can pay this kind of rent but we Mexicans are being charged the same, and the government doesn’t care about it.”
On top of that, she highlighted the fact that Mexican-American drivers don’t pay taxes for their cars or plates and some of them can’t be fined because of their U.S driver licenses. Issues like these have made those interviewed stress the necessity of government regulations on these topics.