By Heather McGregor
In 2012 the MCC Washington Office paid particular attention to housing concerns in Haiti. Three years after the January 2010 earthquake, close to 370,000 people continue to live in emergency tent shelters, with no alternative permanent housing options. Fear of forced evictions, the current cholera epidemic, and flooding in storms like Hurricane Sandy puts Haitians in extremely insecure circumstances, with women and girls especially vulnerable.
Efforts to address the housing crisis by Haitian President Martelly’s administration have failed to meet the needs of the poor. The government put Project 16/6 into effect in September 2011, a program that forces residents of tent camps to leave and provides them with money for rent or repair costs. However, the amount given is too little to address either of these needs, especially for large families, who receive the same amount as a family of two. Project 16/6 has largely failed, leading to the migration of tent camps elsewhere, often to more dangerous locations where even fewer amenities are available.
MCC is part of the “Under Tents” campaign, a joint initiative of Haitian grassroots and international organizations calling for permanent housing solutions for those living in camps. In September, Haitian housing rights leader Reyneld Sanon brought an on-the-ground perspective to U.S. policymakers.
The MCC Washington Office also supported the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). The bill seeks to measure the progress of relief, recovery, reconstruction, and development efforts in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. Amid concerns that little of the intended aid is actually reaching those who are most vulnerable, this bill would address issues of transparency and accountability of U.S. aid dollars to assess how money is being spent in Haiti.
To learn more, see the Fall/Winter 2012 issue of the Washington Memo at https://washingtonmemo.org/newsletter/fall12.