December 15, 2011
“The Dream House Nightmare:” Empty Homes, Absent Management, Broken Fixtures — #Haiti Grassroots Watch #Haitifund @bostonfdn

128 homes built by the Venezuelan government in Zoranje, Haiti sat vacant for 15 months waiting for guidelines on distribution


“One hundred and twenty eight homes near Port-au-Prince and which were finished in May, 2010, sat empty for 15 months, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of refugees were suffering in sordid camps. Finally the homes are occupied… but the majority by squatters,” reports Haiti Grassroots Watch, a collaboration of grassroots print and radio journalists. The project is located in Zoranje, an area near Cite Soleil and northeast of Port-au-Prince.   


The $4.9 million project funded by the Venezuelan government, which made the largest pledge of any country to Haiti’s reconstruction efforts ($1.3 billion), fell into disarray during negotiations between the Venezuelan and Haitian governments, which apparently couldn’t agree on criteria for distributing the housing. The logical Haitian government agency to manage public housing — “‘doesn’t have funds up to the task’,” stated “Elonge Othélot, the general director of the…Public Entity for the Promotion of Social Housing (Entreprise Publique de Promotion de Logements Sociaux – EPPLS) – the only state agency charged with constructing and managing housing…. (Since the earthquake) the state agency – which is itself miserably housed in a small run-down building – (has not been)… involved in any of the major housing projects.”


The situation reflects the lack of capacity of the Haitian government, which has only been awarded a tiny fraction of all aid disbursed to Haiti, and will remain crippled while foreign aid circumvents it. Now the project in Zoranje is filled half by squatters, desperate to move from tent camps, and has been vandalized. The main water pump has been stolen, along with toilets.


To read the full story see:


Haiti Grassroots Watch is a 2011 grantee of the Haiti Fund at the Boston Foundation, charged with training grassroots journalists to report on aid and reconstruction in Haiti. It coordinates investigative reporting by Groupe Medialternatif/Alterpresse and the Society for the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), along with two networks – the network of women community radio broadcasters (REFRAKA) and the Association of Haitian Community Media (AMEKA.)