In September 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria barreled across Puerto Rico, causing unprecedented damage and leaving up to 780,000 homes damaged, according to Puerto Rican officials. In addition to the destruction, the storms exacerbated longstanding and persistent housing issues and challenges on the island.
Habitat for Humanity is committed to increasing access to safe, decent and affordable housing in Puerto Rico and assisting people on their “pathway to permanence” in securing shelter. “Pathway to Permanence” is Habitat’s approach for helping families move into safe, affordable and permanent homes after a disaster.
Habitat is partnering directly with hurricane-affected families to address their shelter needs, as well as work with the Puerto Rican government and local municipalities on policies and systems that will improve shelter, land and resilience issues across the island.
To accomplish this important work, Habitat’s hurricane recovery program includes four key areas of focus:
- Providing local workers with access to training programs and construction methodologies that will help build back safer, resilient homes.
- Partnering with homeowners to repair or rebuild their homes, and offer trainings on safe repair and building practices and disaster preparedness.
- Supporting policies that will improve security of tenure and processes for title clearing and granting.
- Widely sharing knowledge and key learnings from Habitat’s ongoing work and advocacy efforts so that residents, communities and leaders can increase and scale housing recovery.
Based on Habitat’s damage assessments and input from municipalities, efforts began in the greater San Juan area, followed by the southern part of the island and then the east.