Habitat representatives, partner families, local donors, partners, officials and supporters celebrate a new beginning in Habitat’s Santo community.
LÉOGÂNE, Haiti (Feb. 14, 2012) – Today, 155 families left homeless by the 2010 earthquake took possession of their new permanent homes in Habitat for Humanity’s Santo community in Léogâne, 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 Léogâne 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 nonprofit. 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 today’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, Léogâne 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 Haiti in 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.
About Habitat for Humanity Haiti
Habitat for Humanity has been at work in Haiti for 27 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 risk reduction and financial literacy, and works in coordination with community and government agencies. For more information, visit habitat.org/haiti .
About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is a global nonprofit Christian housing organization that seeks to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope. Since 1976, Habitat has served more than 500,000 families by welcoming people of all races, religions and nationalities to construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. For more information, to donate or to volunteer, please visit www.habitat.org , or follow us at www.facebook.com/habitat  or at www.twitter.com/habitat_org  or join Habitat’s blog community at www.habitat.org/blog .