There is an abandoned skyscraper in the capital city of Venezuela, that is known as the Tower of David. The tower is located in Caracas and is 45-storey high. From the outside the skyscraper looks like any other abandoned building, but inside is another story.
Over the past seven years, the building has become home to over 3,000 homeless people and is the world’s tallest slum. Construction of the building began in the 1990’s and the it was expected to be one of the greatest structures in the financial district. Unfortunately, the death of the developer in 1994 led to the project being abandoned. By 2007, many squatter had occupied the empty skeleton of the structure, which is not so surprising since the city of Caracas is in need of two million homes.
The residents of the tower are very comfortable and contribute to pay for basic facilities. The residents contribute about 200 bolivar ($32) so that they can use electricity and running water that was installed by the people who have made the Tower of David their home. The fee takes care of those facilities, as well as other amenities and even a 24-hour security patrol.
The first 28 floors are habitable with access to basic facilities, with the first 10 being accessible by motorcycles since their is no elevator. As for the other residents, they have no choice but to use the stairs. Each floor has its own delegate that helps in managing the tower and keeping the communal corridors clean. The building even has its own dentist, some shops and a beauty salon.
Despite the serenity with which the inhabitants of Torre de David live, there is a lot of debate about whether it is being used in the right way or not. For the residents it is a safe haven, but for people living outside, it represents crime and illegal occupation of a building. The media portrays the skyscraper as the epicenter of crime and drugs in the city, but the residents proclaim the contrary. Police regularly raid the building in search of kidnap victims and people view it as a den of thieves and criminals. The Tower of David is viewed as a slum and its inhabitants are treated like outsiders.
In fact, the building is a perfect place for young couples looking for an affordable place to live. Although many people believe that the tower should be evacuated and the inhabitants relocated to proper homes with access to public service, the residents have yet to see any aid from the state. But they do not mind and are content with their home. As one of the residents said, “It is a very wonderful thing to have a place and know where you are going to spend the night. It is not temporary, this is our life.”