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Shelter and Housing

The Challenge

As of January 2014, nearly 90 percent of the estimated 1.5 million Haitians in displaced persons camps (IDPs) following the January 2010 earthquake have left the camps for alternative housing options.  The Government of Haiti and international partners, including the United States, continue to focus on finding shelter alternatives for the remaining IDPs.  While important work on housing options continues, the success achieved to date entailed cooperation to overcome daunting challenges.   The earthquake created more than 10 million cubic meters of debris, hindering reconstruction. The loss of critical records in the earthquake has made identifying the rightful owners of land extremely difficult, and this has exacerbated the problem of identifying land for housing.  More than 1,300 informal settlements sprung up throughout Port au Prince. 
The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has been a leader in the shelter sector response, both during the emergency response and in the longer-term reconstruction effort. USAID is helping earthquake-affected families reclaim and rebuild their lives.    

Emergency and Transitional Response

Emergency Shelter Provision, Transitional Shelter, and Repair Solutions

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, USAID worked with the Government of Haiti, international community, and with non‐governmental organization partners to provide emergency shelter to 1.5 million displaced persons. In total, USAID has provided approximately $135.7 million for emergency shelter activities and provision of shelter solutions in Haiti since the earthquake. 
Following the emergency phase, USAID reached more than 65,600 households by providing shelter solutions, including transitional shelters (t-shelters), repairs to damaged houses, support to host families who housed displaced people, and rental vouchers. USAID partners constructed over 29,100 t-shelters, repaired more than 5,800 structures to shelter over 8,100 households and provided hosting support to over 27,200 households and rental vouchers to roughly 1,200 households, thereby housing more than 328,000 individuals. 

Neighborhood-Based Resettlement Approach

USAID supports a neighborhood-based approach to facilitate returns to areas of origin and help re-establish pre-earthquake social and economic structures.  These involve extensive community participation and close coordination between and among the community members, the Government of Haiti, donors, and implementing partners. 
For example, in the Ravine Pintade neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, USAID support encompassed rubble removal, house repairs, and the construction of footpaths, drainage lines, retaining walls, and t-shelters, including innovative two-story t-shelters.  USAID upgraded and repaired key public and community facilities, including community libraries, cultural centers, vocational training centers, public and private schools, and solar street lights, as well as secured scholarships for returning and resettled internally displaced students and young adults. The World Bank initiated a $95 million neighborhood upgrading project—$65 million of which is funded through a U.S. Government contribution to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund. 
USAID implemented a pilot program that provided families with options to resettle out of the camps n Port-au-Prince’s Place St. Pierre and Place Boyer, where internally displaced persons lived in tents for nearly two years. Under priorities identified by the Government of Haiti, USAID worked with the local municipality, Government of Haiti officials, and the International Organization for Migration to resettle more than 1,300 families residing in these areas. After registering for the program, residents chose which resettlement option was best for their family: repair of their house, demolition of a house with structural damage beyond repair with the construction of a t-shelter, or a one-year rental assistance grant. This USAID pilot program concluded March 2012 and the Government of Haiti incorporated this approach into their ongoing 16/6 housing resettlement program. 


The Final Phase—Permanent Shelter Solutions

Replacing housing stock lost as a result of the earthquake and providing ownership opportunities for identified beneficiaries is the final phase of U.S. Government post-earthquake reconstruction and recovery support for housing. To meet this Government of Haiti priority, USAID is providing housing in new settlements near employment opportunities in the Port-au-Prince, Saint Marc, and Cap-Haitien Development Corridors. USAID recently completed the construction of 906 new homes. Near the end of 2013, families selected by the Government of Haiti began moving in. In addition, USAID will partner with other NGOs and donors to build houses at three other new settlements. The housing, which is being developed in conjunction with development partners, provides opportunities for earthquake victims and other eligible households. 
New housing construction is not the only way the U.S. Government is addressing shelter needs in Haiti. Going forward, the U.S. Government is working on other approaches that will target more beneficiaries. One such approach is to encourage local financial institutions to lend for new construction as well as provide loans to repair and expand existing homes. For example, part of USAID’s Development Credit Authority guarantees with Haitian financial institutions is allocated toward housing finance and construction. Additionally, USAID and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, along with the Clinton Bush Fund, are supporting a mortgage facility for housing micro-finance and construction loans for small business premises. The U.S. Government, through USAID, is also piloting a program that will provide safe, permanent homes and associated infrastructure to 125 families residing in an IDP camp in Port-au-Prince. The pilot aims to demonstrate how to transform IDP camps into housing communities that are financially and socially sustainable, with the intent of scaling up as the program progresses.

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Last updated: January 28, 2015

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