Can abandoned vehicles be the solution to Venezuela's housing crisis? Shutterstock/bikeriderlondon

Venezuela has a housing crisis, as the South American nation has a shortage of residences for its citizens leaving them no other option but to seek refuge in disaster shelters. The deficit of housing is not new for the nation: Hugo Chávez, the predecessor of current President Nicolás Maduro, made promises to provide housing -- for the 3 million living in inadequate housing -- throughout his regime.

The root cause for the crisis was the dearth of affordable housing for the citizens of Venezuela. Chavez's government attempted to remedy the situation by vowing to build and refurbish housing units with the "Grand Housing Mission" that pledged to build 2 million new units by 2017 using oil funds. The government managed to build 250,000 new housing units in 2012, but that number took a plunge in 2013 with only 150,000 units.

One factor that has caused a hiccup in the development of housing is the shortage of steel in the country -- the total steel output was at a 16-year low of 1.5 million tons in 2012 and 1.6 million tons in 2013. Venezuelan steelmaker Sidor has the ability for 5 million tons of steel output, but protests and insufficient investment has hindered their productivity.

On Tuesday, the Venezuelan government announced that it would begin housing construction using raw materials sourced from crushing abandoned cars, bicycles, and motorbikes in order to supplement the lowered available quantity of local steel.

"We have sent 10,485 automobiles, 9,651 motorbikes and 539 bicycles to the national steel industry," Maria Martinez, a deputy justice minister, said during a visit to an abandoned car deposit outside Caracas, reports Reuters. Martinez added that the upcycled steel could be used for rebars, which are used to reinforce concrete in housing units.

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