Haiti housing crisis worsening after 2010 earthquake: AI

[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Friday expressed serious concern [press release] regarding the inefficacy of the allocation of state and donor resources used for the reconstruction of Haiti after a massive January 2010 earthquake [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] displaced more than 2.3 million people. AI estimates that approximately 350,000 Haitians still live in nearly 500 makeshift camps where living conditions are allegedly worsening due to limited access to water and grossly ineffective sanitation and waste disposal methods. AI states that these issues have led to the spread of infectious diseases, sexual assault [text, PDF] and the ever-present fear of eviction by private and government entities. In addition, AI questions Haiti's National Policy on Housing [text, in French], which was enacted in April 2012 with the goal of prioritizing construction of new housing. AI asserts that the policy does not adequately address conditions for those already living in poverty, and provides no answer for those who cannot access adequate and affordable housing. AI also questions the efficacy of Project 16/6 [official website], a privately supported August 2011 national initiative that seeks to relocate the homeless from camps to housing neighborhoods. AI worries that while families receive a year-long rent subsidy of USD $500, the amounts are too low to support individuals and families "in the long-term." AI elaborates:

Many people told Amnesty International delegates in Haiti of their worries about not knowing where they would live after the end of the subsidies, as they would not be able to afford the rent. As it is, they are currently struggling to feed themselves and their children, let alone pay for other basic essentials such as clothing, medicine and education.
AI urges [press release] for renewed prioritization of support for the Haitian people from both national authorities and the international community as a whole.

On January 12, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed more than 200,000 Haitians and caused massive damage to property and infrastructure. Local police struggled to maintain law and order [JURIST report] in Haiti while awaiting the deployment of US troops, as looting and vigilantism rose among increasingly desperate and frustrated survivors of the earthquake that struck the country. The international community along with the US sought to provide aid initially. In January 2010 US President Barack Obama signed a bill [JURIST report] that allowed Americans to claim contributions made to Haitian earthquake relief efforts as a deduction on their 2009 federal income tax returns. Also in January the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced [JURIST report] that the US would allow Haitian orphans into the country to receive needed care in the aftermath of the earthquake. In the same timeframe the DHS announced that Haitian nationals already present in the US on January 12 would be granted Temporary Protected Status [JURIST report] and would be allowed to continue living and working in the US for the next 18 months regardless of their immigration status.

 

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