Cayman Islands -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Hurricane damage in Cayman Islands.
Aware of the housing struggles low-income families in the Cayman Islands face, a group of concerned residents began seeking methods to alleviate the situation. They selected Habitat for Humanity as the most appropriate vehicle and received approval to initiate a program in 2003. Next came a process of adapting Habitat’s methods to the islands’ culture and unique housing needs.
Today, HFH Cayman Islands, located in George Town, is laying the foundation for its pioneer program. It is selecting housing models and forming alliances prior to beginning construction in Grand Cayman. So far, strong support has been voiced by the government and public, through commitments to aid in land acquisition, as well as donated materials.
While the Cayman Islands is considered to have the highest standard of living in the Caribbean, a segment of locals and immigrants struggles with few resources. A national survey found that 28 percent of the population earns between US$1,000 and $2,000 per month, particularly the inhabitants of the North Side and West Bay areas. A family dependent on one income earns between US$800 and $900 a month. Although salaries are tax-free, the cost of living is significantly higher than in many industrialized nations since almost all goods are imported.
Of an estimated 15,000 households on the islands, half appear to be renting. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment starts at roughly US$700, making affordable housing an enormous obstacle for the poor. In addition, current loan options require a costly 10 percent to 25 percent deposit.
A traditional Caymanian house is made of wattle and daub (sticks and mud), with a corrugated tin roof. A house can be very small (12X12ft) and is usually located near other family units, one of which may be larger and contain the cooking facility. Since the islands lack streams and rivers, water is a precious commodity and must be collected in rooftop cisterns.
HFH Cayman Islands estimates that the current housing need is 1,000 units. Only one private company develops “affordable housing.” The government recently started a low-cost housing project, for which they have received over 400 requests in a very short period.