Haitians still waiting on permanent homes

Aug. 16, 2012 at 11:34 AM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Two and a half years after a life-altering earthquake, and billions in reconstruction aid, observers say permanent housing is still a dream for many Haitians.

Because of the lack of an official government housing policy, a haphazard system has developed that favors rural dwellers over urban and homeowners over renters, the New York Times reported.

The World Bank estimates that more than $400 million has been spent on "large-scale permanent solutions." However, small-scale transitional shelters and rental subsidies have garnered most of the budget.

Those one-room wooden temporary shelters aren't built to last and they've taken longer to build and at a higher cost than anticipated. So far, $500 million has been spent for 125,000 shelters. "In this climate, they will be eaten by termites and rot in three to five years," said H. Kit Miyamoto, an engineer who's been working in Haiti since the earthquake.

More than 200,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by the quake, and an estimated 15,000 repairs have been made courtesy of international aid. Some 5,700 new permanent homes have been constructed outside of Port-au-Prince, but some of them are not yet occupied.

Four hundred new homes are still empty five months after they were finished. Only 25 families have moved in so far, as the development still doesn't have water.

Some 390,000 Haitians still live in 575 camps, often in terrible conditions, the report said. There are 1,200 people to every shower and 77 people to every latrine.

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