You are here

Habitat for Humanity aims to help 50,000 earthquake-affected families in Haiti

Habitat for Humanity expects to help 50,000 families in Haiti who were affected by the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12. Through a multi-year effort that includes relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction, Habitat for Humanity announced today its plan to work with its partners and help improve shelter conditions.

02_11_2010_Haiti_help_50,000-1.jpg

Habitat plans to distribute 10,000 emergency shelter kits.

“This is a bold goal for Habitat for Humanity, but the level of destruction and the number of families affected demands a bold response,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “In our response, we want to provide the widest range of shelter resources available so that we can have a positive impact on the greatest number of people possible.”

Habitat’s threefold plan begins with the distribution of 10,000 emergency shelter kits that contain tools and supplies to help families make immediate house repairs and construct temporary shelters on their home sites.

“We want to help families return to their homes and begin rebuilding their lives as quickly as possible,” said Reckford. “Providing these tools is an important first step in the recovery.”

The contents of Habitat’s kits include tarpaulins, rope, duct tape and a hammer, all used for building temporary shelters that help guard families against the elements. A chisel and a hacksaw help with salvaging materials from collapsed houses. Buckets are used for debris removal and for carrying water. Gloves and masks in the kits help provide protection during the cleanup. The kits are being assembled in the Dominican Republic and in Atlanta, and are being distributed in earthquake-affected areas in Haiti. The emergency shelter kits cost approximately $250 a piece, including cost of transport to Haiti.

In the rehabilitation phase, Habitat for Humanity will help families remove debris, salvage materials that can be recycled, repair homes that received minimal damage and build transitional shelters that meet basic needs. Over time as conditions improve, Habitat’s transitional shelters’ materials eventually can be incorporated into permanent housing. Habitat for Humanity transitional shelters are expected to range in cost from $1,000 to $2,500.

In the reconstruction phase, Habitat will build core houses, each with a separate sanitation facility. These basic housing units are permanent and resistant to earthquakes and hurricanes. They are designed to be expanded over time by the homeowner families and meet international humanitarian standards. Depending on design adjustments according to context and the cost of materials in the earthquake’s aftermath, the core houses will cost from $4,000 to $6,000 a piece.

02_11_2010_Haiti_help_50,000-2.jpg

Emergency kits contain tools to make immediate basic home repairs and temporary shelter.

To help implement these efforts in Haiti, Habitat will increase the number of its Habitat for Humanity Resource Centers in the country. Before the earthquake, Habitat already operated resource centers in Cap-Haitian and Gonaives. An expanded number of resource centers will help train people in construction skills and financial literacy. The centers may also produce construction materials, such as blocks used for house building. Habitat for Humanity Resource Centers also create additional job opportunities in local communities.

“With more than 200,000 houses severely damaged or destroyed and 1.2 million people homeless or displaced, there is a critical need for shelter in Haiti,” said Reckford. “Based on our responses to the Asian tsunami and hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the U.S. Gulf Coast, we are confident that we can empower families to improve their housing conditions by giving them the tools and then working alongside them. But Habitat for Humanity is in need of significant financial support so that we can help 50,000 families improve their lives.”

The Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund has committed $300,000 to help Habitat for Humanity provide emergency shelter kits. The German Foreign Office has given Habitat more than $500,000 for the emergency shelter kits. Whirlpool Corp. is providing warehouse space and logistics for assembling the kits near Atlanta. The Home Depot Foundation provided funding, volunteers and in-kind support from several Home Depot suppliers. Hands On Atlanta helped to recruit volunteers. Additional support for Habitat for Humanity’s Haiti recovery efforts comes from the Ricky Martin Foundation and donations from churches, schools, individuals and civic groups.

Habitat for Humanity has been at work in Haiti for 26 years and has provided housing solutions through a variety of initiatives including new home construction, progressive building, home repairs and improvements. Habitat also builds capacity in construction skills, disaster mitigation and financial literacy, and works in coordination with community and government agencies.

What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Europe and Central Asia in a number of ways. Here are some examples:

• Visit our donations page to support projects in Europe and Central Asia.
• Go to country profile pages to learn about other programs in Europe and Central Asia.

If you wish to receive monthly news updates, please subscribe to our E-newsletters.