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Fast Fact on U.S. Government's Work in Haiti: Shelter Solutions


Fact Sheet
Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
January 8, 2011

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In the immediate aftermath, the U.S. Government worked with the international community and with non-governmental organization 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.

What are T-Shelters?

Transitional shelters, 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 can often be upgraded and expanded to create permanent housing with a concrete slab floor and can be easily assembled using local labor.
  • 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 November 30, the U.S. Government built 9,739 t-shelters - sufficient to house nearly 48,700 people. In total, humanitarian agencies have constructed more than 19,197 t-shelters.

All USAID-partner NGO designs for t-shelters meet technical and safety specifications and comply with Haiti Shelter Cluster guidelines.

Shelter Solutions

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 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.

As of December, teams of engineers evaluated more than 377,446 buildings out of an estimated 400,000 buildings that require habitability assessments.

  • Over half of these houses are coded "green," or safe for habitation.
  • 26 percent are classified as "yellow," meaning they can be made safe with repairs.
  • Only 21 percent of the houses are 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. The engineer teams are comprised of the Government of Haiti’s Ministry of Public Works, Transport, and Communication, the U.N.’s Office for Project Services, and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s partner Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), with assistance from Miyamoto International.

Repairing Yellow Houses and Building Codes

The U.S. Government is funding nearly 4,100 yellow house repairs, which will result in safe structures that exceed the standards reflected in current Haitian building codes. The U.S. Government is also incorporating Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) measures into building activities to ensure a higher level of safety than that required by current Haitian building codes. The World Bank and the U.N.’s Human Settlements Program are working closely with the Government of Haiti to review and revise existing building codes that will guide future construction. Miyamoto International finalized 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.

  • More than 330 Haitian engineers and 150 masons have been trained in damage assessments and repairs.
  • In addition, USAID’s partner, Habitat for Humanity, is working with Haitian Diaspora engineers, architects, and urban planners to build the capacity of counterparts in Haiti and provide support to Haiti’s Ministry of the Interior.



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