Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Haiti is dedicated to helping low-income families gain access to decent housing and accompanying them along their pathways to permanent housing. Habitat has served more than 55,000 families in Haiti, many of them through the 2010 earthquake recovery programme.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80% of the population living on less than USD 2 per day. Political instability, food shortages, unemployment, tropical storms and hurricanes have kept most Haitians locked in a cycle of poverty for generations.
Access to housing is equally desperate. Before the 2010 earthquake, Haiti already faced a severe shortage of houses. The earthquake damaged nearly 190,000 houses, and 105,000 more were destroyed, adding to the pre-existing backlog of 300,000 houses required to meet the growing shelter needs of the country. Of the more than 2 million affected survivors, more than 1.5 million were left homeless.
Today, land tenure remains the biggest roadblock to rebuilding in Haiti. Only clear and transparent land transfer processes can ensure that long-term housing reconstruction and redevelopment can take place.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80% of the population living on less than USD 2 per day.
Habitat’s work in Haiti encompasses new home construction, community rebuilding (including retrofits, training and capacity building) and land reform advocacy.
Before the 2010 earthquake, Habitat constructed more than 2,000 permanent homes in the city of Cabaret. As part of its earthquake recovery programme, Habitat constructed 300 more homes in the Santo community of Léogâne. In 2011, 100 houses were built by volunteers as part of the 28th annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. 55 more houses were built by volunteers from Haven, an Irish NGO. In 2012, Habitat’s 29th Carter Work Project returned to build an additional 100 homes in Santo. Habitat also constructed 1,500 upgradeable shelters that can be turned into permanent housing.
In 2010, Habitat launched its multiyear community action plan for Simon-Pelé, a densely populated urban neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, to help families improve their living conditions and gain access to critical services. The plan includes the implementation of infrastructure programmes, such as building and repairing roads, removing rubble, adding street lighting, and installing water points for clean water and drainage; retrofitting more than 650 homes (a structural retrofit improves the original house by strengthening it against future natural disasters); training 5,000 residents in vocational skills, basic and advanced construction, financial literacy, disaster-risk reduction, basic home maintenance, conflict management and gender equality; and capacity building of the local community council.
In 2014, Habitat launched the multiyear Canaan project to help more than 30,000 families upgrade their current homes, build safer new homes, and implement community infrastructure and services. Habitat will also advocate for the formal recognition of this new settlement and for land tenure so that families will have a secure foundation on which their lives are built.
In 2011, Habitat created the Haiti Property Law Working Group, which continues to develop and implement goals, objectives and priorities to help Haiti deal with long-standing land tenure issues — an essential step in helping people gain access to housing.
“Now Habitat has rebuilt the house with good material, resulting in a strong house.”
-Mrs. Elmire | Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Mrs. Elmire is the mother of three children: Eliannestar Gerar, 19; Santiana Gerar, 13; and Ernica Gerar, 2. Their home in Simon-Pelé, a densely populated neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, was severely damaged by the 2010 earthquake. With no other options available, the family had to live for more than three years in a nearby camp, where life was difficult and unsafe. Recently, Elmire and her children moved back into their home after Habitat retrofitted it as part of its community action plan.
“After the earthquake, all of the walls of my house were damaged,” Elmire said. “Now Habitat has rebuilt the house with good materials, resulting in a strong house.”
The sense of security provided by their retrofitted home gives the family great comfort and peace. “Me and my children feel secure in our home,” Elmire said. “I no longer worry about thieves and bad weather, like hurricanes.”