Haiti concludes the Week of Reconstruction where President Martelly has stated, “yes to low-income housing and no to no-income housing… Nothing is for FREE in Haiti”!Officially this event marks the symbolic end to the disaster relief effort and a shift to the long-term work of reconstruction. By some estimates this shift represents the start of a 10-year multi-billion dollar construction project on the island.
As with all major construction endeavors there are associated costs with the rebuilding of a country. In Haiti the cost is going to be enormous and building things in this environment will be very difficult.
So when the new president suggests that nothing is free, he is correct. Unfortunately, many believe that “free” is all that can be paid by the poor. This is why it is critical that the future of Haiti be built upon jobs and economic opportunity. “We must finally leave the logic of emergency and turn the country into the future, to reconstruction,” stated Martelly. Ten years of reconstruction can produce millions of jobs and tens of thousands of business opportunities, if Haitian’s get the work and proper support.
Because construction will be the future of Haiti as it rebuilds, then finding jobs and economic opportunity within construction is the answer to paying for housing. When the poor have work and income they have some resources to pay for housing.
Some would argue that the poor will never have enough saved to buy a house, and that may be true. But they would have enough to pay rent or to share in a rent subsidy program if they had jobs in the reconstruction process. No matter how this issues is resolved, FREE housing doesn’t square with the personal dignity that Haitian’s should strive for in their own lives.
Haiti can come back better and become more self-reliant if they will begin to take the lead in how the country is rebuilt. President Martelly is calling a meeting with reconstruction leadership as the week of reconstruction ends. His goal is to find a way to change the direction of the Interim Commission so that it becomes more Haitian directed. We will be interested to see if the Haitian leadership recognizes the issues in the concrete supply chain, because there are millions of jobs in that sector of reconstruction.