Entries in Housing (12)


Evictions of Homeless Earthquake Victims: How the Government Treats the Most Vulnerable in Haiti

By Etant Dupain

Nearly three years after the earthquake in Haiti, nearly 400,000 people remain humiliated and forgotten in camps, while at the same time impoverished urban neighborhoods – slums or bidonvil – have grown and sprung up in new places. Since the arrival of the new government and President Martelly, there has been a strategy of forced systematic evictions, that have exacerbated the problem, feeling like injury upon injury for the victims of the January 12 earthquake who continue to live in camps.

It isn’t a secret that President Martelly does not believe people are living in tents because they are homeless. He stated this himself in an interview with Al Jazeera. Martelly said:

“people leave their homes, they come under the tents because they know because they know that there they are going to have free food, free water, free assistance and they won’t be paying rent, they won’t be paying electricity. So some people are living under the tents but it’s more of a business deal than actually living under the tents.” (see the video of President Martelly here, begins around minute 43) 

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Alice Walker Statement on Haiti and Tropical Storm Isaac

A homeless earthquake survivor sits in front of her makeshift shelter in Kanaran, outside Haiti's capital. Photo by BVK

I was recently in Haiti, and what I experienced there made my heart very sad for humanity.  Two and a half years ago, when Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake, I, like so many others around the globe, sent what aid I could to the people who lost, if not their lives, then almost everything else: housing, clothing, schools, food, among other basic things. 

It was shocking to realize, in Haiti as of last week, that the funds so generously and thoughtfully gathered by the collective human family in an attempt to stand by the people of Haiti who suffered the most from the earthquake, never reached them.  That over 400,000 persons: women, men, children, the elderly, the infirm, the mentally stressed, are still homeless, having (some of them) been moved to an internal refugee camp in a desert with no visible sources of either water or food. 

In a former soccer field in the inner city neighborhood of Solino, hundreds of families live crammed together under tents 32 months after the earthquake. Photo by BVK

Dreading the likely impact this week-end of oncoming tropical storm and possible hurricane Isaac on the fragile tents and shanties displaced Haitians are attempting to live in I can only ask that, again, collectively, humanity will rouse itself to demand to know where are the funds sent with such faith after the earthquake.  Why are so many Haitians still homeless?  Why are so many without adequate shelter, commiseration, compassion and food? Why are we not allowed to care for each other as we very much wish to do?  As a film made about this mismanagement of apparently everything states in its title:  Where Did the Money Go? 

As catastrophic climate change tightens its grip on the planet, there are bound to be more disasters of the kind that has so harmed Haiti.  We would do well, as a human family, to make every attempt to remain steadfast in our support of one another as we face a future far from secure for any of us.

Alice Walker


Human rights investigation finds forty-one percent of families relocated under Haitian government’s housing program live in worse conditions than before the earthquake

Haiti’s Housing Crisis: Human rights investigation finds forty-one percent of families relocated under Haitian government’s housing program live in worse conditions than before the earthquake


(BOSTON, July 13, 2012)--- The Haitian government housing program is a not a durable or sustainable solution to Haitian’s tent-camp housing crisis, according to a survey of residents  conducted by the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI). The survey interviewed 75 households that had been relocated from six internally displaced persons (IDP) camps under the government’s housing program implemented by the International Organization of Migration (IOM).


The housing program (called the “16/6” Program), which affects only 5% of the camp population, subsidizes residents with up $500 to pay their rent for a year. The survey results indicated some positive results in the short-term.  Two-thirds of families reported that their living situation was better now than when living in the camps, and almost three-quarters said they felt safer now than they did living in the camp. 


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Haiti Brief on Political Situation: March 1, 2012

By Melinda Miles, Let Haiti Live, a project of TransAfrica

1. Dr. Garry Conille, Prime Minister for only four months, resigned on Friday, February 24, 2012. According to Conille he quit because he was not receiving any support (see New York Times article here). Some points of contention between Conille and President Martelly included the passing of Constitutional amendments, which Conille supported and Martelly has been stalling, and also Conille’s efforts to create an audit commission to look at contracts signed by former Prime Minister Bellerive while acting as head of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC). It’s worth noting that Bellerive is President Martelly’s cousin and a close advisor. Some of the contracts Conille wanted to investigate were signed during the final weeks of Bellerive’s tenure as Prime Minister and Co-Chair of the IHRC and it has been alleged in the press and through word of mouth that Martelly has received financial benefits from these contracts.

With the resignation of the Prime Minister, the ministries will likely cease to function other than critical business (however that determination is made) and therefore people will say that Haiti is once again without a government. Many believe (including the Miami Herald editorial board) that President Martelly does not want to share power in any democratic way and would prefer to control everything. It is also notable that the majority of the ministers in Conille’s cabinet were actually the individuals Martelly chose for those positions, despite the Constitution stating that the Prime Minister shall appoint all ministers.


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“Best practices” and “exemplar communities”: Ivory tower housing solutions for Haiti

By Deepa Panchang, Other Worlds

Photo caption: Displaced Haitians march through a camp during a protest demanding better housing policy. Photo by Ben Depp, www.bendepp.com.In a 2011 Forum on the Crisis of Housing in Haiti, a group of camp residents and advocates asked “grassroots organizations and all other movements to mobilize with us on the housing issue so that we can achieve this dream of justice and liberty.” Today, with more than 500,000 people still living under sun-scorched tarps two years after the earthquake of January, 2010, the Haitian housing rights movement continues to gain urgency. Demanding comprehensive housing policy in the long term and decent, secure housing in the short term, the groups that comprise the movement have created detailed prescriptions for how to resolve the crisis. They are up against a lot, however, since most entities in charge of housing have not sought to “mobilize with” the movement; rather, they have come in with their own ideas.

The housing projects touted as the solutions to Haiti’s displacement crisis have foreign corporations and academic institutions at the helm. The story of housing serves as a revealing case study wherein foreigners with little understanding of Haitian needs are designing the kinds of communities Haitians should live in. As the first in a series of articles on disaster capitalism in Haiti, we go back to just months after the earthquake, when the private sector was explicitly put in charge of developing some of Haiti’s only formal housing plans. What transpired helps explain why so many earthquake victims remain mired in desperation to this day.

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