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Vecindad (Spanish, 'neighbourhood') is a Latin American term for a building containing several (often low-income oriented) housing units. Originally a form of housing created through the subdivision of vacated elite housing in historic centres in Mexican cities, where rooms around a central patio were let to families who shared facilities (such as lavatories and/or kitchens) with the other tenants. Also, purpose-built vecindades were constructed in the early 20th century to meet the demand for central low-income housing and only resembling the original vecindades by having small units and shared facilities. The term is now used ambiguously.
In some Latin American countries the "vecindades" are called "conventillos". The word is a derogative from "convento": cloister. The name comes from the similarity of the spatial distribution of the buildings: covered living spaces around an open court or "patio". Important is the inherent social tissue of the "vecindad/conventillo". The dwellers form a complex communal unit with a varied gamma of social interrelationships. The outside world very often considers the inhabitants of a "vecindad" as a group of slum people projecting on them their prejudices against the lower classes. But the "vecindad/conventillo" has also been an inspiration source of creativity. Novels, popular music, visual arts describe romantically the "vecindad" life.
The word vecindad can also refer to a person's legal residence, in terms of a city, province, or state, not just a neighborhood. In Guatemala, there's a national ID referred to as carnet de vecindad; not mattering the actual "neighborhood" but giving the person a legal document saying they are from that country.
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