Shelter Solutions: Fast Facts on the U.S. Government's Work in Haiti
In the immediate aftermath of the January 12, 2010, earthquake, the U.S. Government worked with the international community and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners to provide emergency shelter to 1.5 million internally displaced people. Today, the U.S. Government is working to fund and build transitional shelters, repair damaged homes, and build permanent core houses.
What Are T-Shelters?
Transitional shelters, or t-shelters, are post-disaster shelters designed to jump-start or accelerate recovery and reconstruction. They provide safe, semi-permanent shelter while full construction and recovery takes place.
- T-shelters feature a mix of emergency shelter supplies, such as plastic sheeting, combined with more robust items, including salvaged building materials, and kits consisting of cement, timber or steel framing, tin roofs, and nails.
- T-shelters provide shelter quickly, and can often be upgraded and expanded, or the materials recycled to transition to more permanent shelter T-shelters are designed for resistance to hurricane-force winds, seismic risks, and heavy rainfall, and are large enough to accommodate a family of five. Many t-shelter designs can be built in two to three days and remain standing for three or more years.
The U.S. Government provides funding for its partner non-governmental organizations to construct transitional shelters in Haiti. As of June 30, the U.S. Government has built over 25,600 t-shelters - sufficient to house over 128,000 people. In total, humanitarian agencies have constructed more than 73,700 t-shelters.
All USAID-partner NGO designs for t-shelters meet technical and safety specifications and comply with Haiti Shelter Cluster guidelines.
The U.S. Government is working with the Government of Haiti and the international community to identify long-term solutions that will help Haitian communities rebuild.
In the medium term, by providing t-shelters, the U.S. Government ensures that Haitian families have a roof over their heads while they work toward building a home for the years to come.
As efforts shift from relief to reconstruction, the U.S. Government is building on its t-shelter work by moving aggressively to provide material assistance to displaced people so that they can begin the transition to permanent housing.
Rebuilding Homes: Evaluating the Destruction
The earthquake damaged hundreds of thousands of homes in the densely populated city of Port-au-Prince, and the surrounding areas. The United States is working with the Government of Haiti and the international community to assess impacted homes and facilitate the repairs that will provide displaced Haitian families with a roof once again.
By December 2010, teams of engineers evaluated more than 400,000 buildings. The engineer teams were comprised of the Government of Haiti’s Ministry of Public Works, Transport, and Communication (GoH MTPTC); the United Nations’ Office for Project Services; and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s partner Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), and sub-grantee Miyamoto International.
- Over half of these houses were coded "green," or safe for habitation.
- 26 percent were classified as "yellow," meaning they can be made safe with repairs.
- Only 20 percent of the houses were considered "red," or unsafe for habitation and requiring major repairs or demolition.
Once houses are assigned a classification, families can begin to move back into green houses, and repairs can begin on yellow houses.
Repairing Yellow Houses and Building Codes
The U.S. Government is funding nearly 6,100 yellow house repairs, which will result in safe structures that exceed the standards reflected in current Haitian building standards. As of June 30, USAID had repaired 3,650 yellow houses. The U.S. Government has incorporated Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) measures into building activities to ensure a higher level of safety than that required by current Haitian building codes. USAID grantee Miyamoto International contributed to the technical working group assisting the GoH MTPTC develop yellow house repair guidelines, which provide standards on improving seismic resistance, to assist all individuals and organizations conducting yellow house repairs.
Training and Capacity Building
The U.S. Government is training Haitian engineers, architects, and construction laborers on new construction techniques, DRR measures, and stricter building codes.
As of December 2010, more than 2,000 Haitian engineers, masons, and construction professionals had been trained in damage assessment and repair techniques. In addition, USAID’s partner Habitat for Humanity is working with Haitian diaspora engineers, architects, and urban planners to build the capacity of Haitian counterparts at the community, municipal and national levels.