Habitat for Humanity Dominican Republic
Habitat's work in Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic News and Stories
Housing need in the Dominican Republic
The most recent official studies highlight that the housing deficit in the Dominican Republic is estimated at 600,000 units. Fifty-five percent of this deficit is poor quality housing, rather than homelessness.
According to the figures provided by the United States Agency for International Development, in 1998, Hurricane George worsened the problem even more, increasing the number of families living in inadequate conditions to over 700,000.
Data from the National Housing Institute reveals that at least 49,000 houses were destroyed by George, and 121,000 others were damaged and in need of repair. The greatest percentage of this deficit is found in the country’s southwestern zone.
In the rural countryside, there is a great amount of inadequate housing. Most of the houses are made of tejamanil (a soil and manure mixture). There are also some made of wood, but in poor condition, and even others made out of empty oil drum tins. Many of these houses have dirt floors that constitute a health risk, due to the constant dust they create and the rodents and insects that they invite. Most affected by these unsanitary conditions, are children.
Each day it is more difficult for low-income families to acquire adequate housing conditions. Their monthly income does not allow them to save the purchase price of a house, and bank loans are granted at a very high interest rate. Another issue is land ownership. While many families have built their homes and lived on the same land for years, they do not have legal ownership; even if they have purchased the land informally from another family, often the property legally belongs to the state, a company or an institution.
In addition, these properties lack basic infrastructure. In many cases, paved roads, potable water, electricity, sewage systems and garbage waste management are almost non-existent—especially in rural zones. Often, the only land available is on steep slopes or in ravines, where the inhabitants are in danger from regular flooding and mudslides.
Habitat for Humanity in the Dominican Republic
Habitat for Humanity’s first 53 houses in the Dominican Republic were built in 1989, in los Cocos in the Barahona province.
Habitat for Humanity has built in nine regions of the Dominican Republic: Barahona, Paraíso, Polo, Jaquimeyes, Tamayo, Nagua, San Juan de la Maguana, San Francisco de Macorísand the city of Santo Domingo.
In these regions, people live in houses made of wood, palm trees or discarded materials, which are roofed with rusty corrugated tin sheets. In many cases, there are two families living in just one house, and it is not uncommon to find grandparents, parents and children living in the same room and sharing beds.
Concrete blocks, cement, iron rods, sand and gravel are used to build houses in the Dominican Republic. These materials are weather-resistant, since there are annual hurricane threats from July to November. These materials can be easily purchased in the country, although at a very high price.
Learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean.