House Hunters: Haiti Edition

On the problem of housing in Haiti, from the Associated Press’s Jonathan M. Katz (the only full-time American news correspondent stationed in Haiti prior to the January earthquake) :

Haiti’s brittle housing supply was shattered by the Jan. 12 earthquake, which destroyed an estimated 110,000 homes and apartment buildings. Since then demand has soared, as the more than 1.5 million people who lost their homes compete for new ones at the bottom end of the market, and a rising tide of foreigners from the U.N. and aid groups flood in from the top.

While “more than 1.3 million Haitians live in squatter camps,” writes Katz, there is “one group that can still make rent: Foreign non-governmental organizations, aid workers and journalists,” like Katz, who reports:

The Associated Press, whose house was destroyed in the quake, is now renting a three-bedroom home/office for more than three times what it paid before. And the New York-based nonprofit Voices for Haiti has abandoned Port-au-Prince altogether, moving to the sleepier, more remote seaside town of Cabaret to its north.

Katz gets the bringing-it-closer-to-home quote:

“I find it more expensive to rent a place in Haiti than in Brooklyn, and it’s not just housing. The entire cost of living is very, very high now,” said the group’s head, Mario Augustaze.

And, a true kicker:

The group had to bail out of a project because it was going to cost too much to house the volunteers, Augustaze said. The project was with Habitat for Humanity — building homes.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.