Al Jazeera Haiti: Clinton Housing expo, evictions and collapsing abodes

01Jul11

Here is a piece I produced for Rob Reynolds – Al Jazeera, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. June 2011

New houses being built in Port-au-Prince, but they’re not meant for anyone to lived in. This is an exposition of experimental houses built by entrepreneurs seeking to gain international funding for their architectural design.

Andres Meira – Clinton Foundation Housing Project Manager: “This is a private sector exposition, you’re seeing people here who are hopeful to make some money.”

New Haitian president Michel Martelly toured the expo with Bill Clinton, UN Special Envoy for Haiti. They posed smiling for photo opportunities, but wouldn’t stop for questioning.

Rob Reynolds: “what do you think President Clinton?”

Bill Clinton giving a thumbs up: “Good beginning.”

The expo will result in just 400 houses for Haitian families, not a very good beginning for a country more than 6 hundred thousand people still living in makeshift camps.

One of those camps, called Shada, is desolate now. Last week men hired by the local government came and evicted 15 hundred people. Later we met with some of the camp residents.

Woman in pink: “He [Martelly] doesn’t do anything for us. The landlord on whose land where staying at least gave us 1000 dollars [$ 125 USD], but the state doesn’t give us anything.”

There have been numerous mass evictions in recent months. In desperations people are returning to earthquake damaged houses putting themselves at risk

This red tag means that this house is too dangerous for anyone to live in, but there are about 80 thousand such houses in Port-au-Prince and many of them are inhabited, at least part of the time.

In the Ravine Pintad neighborhood structural engineer Kit Miyamoto points out buildings on the verge of collapse

Kit Miyamoto – CEO of Miyamoto International Inc. Earthquake structural engineer – standing in front of a damaged house: “That’s definitely caused by the earthquake and is the movement of the whole structure itself. You can see the column in the corner there is crap really bad.”

Rob Reynolds: “Kit, would it take another earthquake to bring this house down, or just some bad weather, for instance?”

Kit Miyamoto: “This whole thing could come down by the rain water.”

Rob Reynolds: “and hurricane season is upon us now.”

Kit Miyamoto: “yeah, exactly. Exactly.

We went inside to talk to the residents, Sonya Jean and Maude Bellevue. They are perfectly aware of the danger, but they have to live with it.

Sonya Jean and Maude Bellevue: “we have no where else to go. We have no means at our disposal, no capacity.

They’ve given up hoping that their government or anyone else will help. Like so many others in Haiti, they’re living on the edge.

Rob Reynolds, Al Jazeera Port-au-Prince

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