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More than 150 families left homeless by the 2010 earthquake took possession of their new permanent homes in Habitat for Humanity’s Santo community in Leogane, 18 miles west of Port-au-Prince and considered to be the epicenter of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake.
“This is an exciting day for the partner families, Habitat for Humanity, donors, partners, volunteers and supporters who have made this all possible,” said Mark Andrews, vice president of Haiti recovery for Habitat for Humanity International. “Together, we have built a new community that will bring lasting hope, health and well-being to these families for years and generations to come.”
The Leogane development has the potential to house up to 500 families, or approximately 2,500 individuals. To date, 155 homes have been constructed thanks to Santo project donors, including the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank, donors and volunteers of Habitat’s 28th annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, and volunteers from Haven, an Irish non-profit. Partner families contributed more than 150 hours of “sweat equity” to help build their homes.
Habitat plans to construct another 100 houses this year when the Carter Work Project returns to Haiti. More houses will be constructed, pending additional funding.
In addition to a new home, each family has their own compost latrine and has access to clean water at one of the 14 water points constructed throughout the development. Solar-powered street lighting is also provided. As part of the multi-year project, the plan is to provide needed services, including a community and health center, a school, church and safe play areas.
Speaking at Wednesday’s celebration, Claude Jeudy, Habitat’s national director for Haiti, said, “We have looked forward to this day with great anticipation to recognize what faith, perseverance and true partnership can create. This community is a testament to the inspiring work of the many people who have come together to make a difference in Haiti.”
Since the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010, Habitat for Humanity’s five-year disaster recovery program to provide 50,000 families with pathways to permanent housing has helped more than 40,000 families or approximately 200,000 individuals in Port-au-Prince, Leogane and Cabaret.
In addition to its permanent houses in Santo, Habitat has distributed more than 24,500 emergency shelter kits with partner organizations, constructed more than 5,000 transitional or upgradeable shelters, conducted 12,000 house damage assessments, and repaired or rehabilitated more than 350 houses. Habitat’s primary focus over the next three years will be to partner with more Haitian families to build permanent housing.
The earthquake damaged nearly 190,000 houses in Haiti, of which 105,000 were completely destroyed. Of the more than 2 million affected survivors, 550,000 are still displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration. Land tenure continues to remain the biggest roadblock to reconstruction. The process of identifying land ownership was vague before the earthquake, and now it is even more of a challenge.
To address this problem, Habitat has created and fostered the Haiti Property Law Working Group, a diverse coalition of Haitian government officials, lawyers, academics and business leaders, along with representatives of the World Bank, USAID, the Inter-American Development Bank, the government of France, the Organization of American States, Architecture for Humanity, the Clinton Global Initiative, foundations, development partners and other nongovernmental organizations engaged in reconstruction and development.
The goal of the Haiti Property Law Working Group is to support the government of Haitiin the recovery effort through the appropriate development of property for job creation, housing and other purposes by defining each step of the current processes applicable to land transactions and recommending improvements to be incorporated in future policies.