When journalists discuss the progress of reconstruction in Haiti, they frequently cite the number of people still living in tents as an indication of how much work is left to be done. In the New York Times recent article about housing, Deborah Sontag wrote:
Two and a half years after the earthquake, despite billions of dollars in reconstruction aid, the most obvious, pressing need — safe, stable housing for all displaced people — remains unmet.
She later went on to state that 390,000 people that were displaced by the earthquake remain homeless.
I do not dispute that 390,000 people still live in tents and that they live in terrible conditions. However, at least a million other people live in tin shacks in places like Cite Soliel. Their living conditions are no better than those who live in tents plus they have to pay rent for their shack.
Living conditions for Haiti’s poorest were terrible before the earthquake. Many people moved into camps not because they lost their house, but because they did not have a decent house before the earthquake. I strongly agree that one of Haiti’s most pressing needs is for safe, stable housing. I hope that this is for all of Haiti’s poor—both urban and rural—and not just for those living in tents.