Two and a half years after the earthquake, despite billions of dollars in reconstruction aid, the most obvious, pressing need — safe, stable housing for all displaced people — remains unmet.
In what international officials term a protracted humanitarian crisis, hundreds of thousands remain in increasingly wretched tent camps. Tens of thousands inhabit dangerously damaged buildings. And countless others, evicted from camps and yards, have simply disappeared with their raggedy tarps and rusty sheet metal into the hills.
There are many visible signs of activity across the country now — public plazas cleared of lean-tos, state-of-the-art repairs in selected areas and housing developments under construction. Tens of thousands of Haitian families have found enduring solutions to their housing crises — by rebuilding themselves, by getting reconstruction assistance or by securing one of the relatively few new houses.
But to spend a week exploring the disaster zone is to discover striking disparities in living conditions, often glaringly juxtaposed: Givenson’s dead-end camp adjacent to a quarter that is a beehive of construction; William Saint Eloi’s good fortune next to his family’s trials; a devastated community revitalized on one side of a ravine but not the other.
In the absence of an overarching housing policy, Haiti’s shelter problem has been tackled unsystematically, in a way that has favored rural over urban victims and homeowners over renters because their needs were more easily met. Many families with the least resources have been neglected unless they happened to belong to a tent camp, neighborhood or vulnerable population targeted by a particular program.
“It’s the project syndrome — one neighborhood gets incredible resources, the next is in total limbo, or one camp gets rental subsidies, the next gets nothing,” said Maggie Stephenson, a senior technical adviser to U.N.-Habitat in Haiti. “We have to spread the remaining resources more equitably. Equity is essential, and so are durable solutions.”
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- f0rtylegz said: Maggie Stephenson, a senior technical adviser to U.N.-Habitat in Haiti. “We have to spread the remaining resources more equitably. Equity is essential, and so are durable solutions.” Equity is impossible. That’s why charity is so complicated.
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