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Haiti races to house post-quake homeless before the rainy season

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The Commission of Dam­age Assessment, Temp­orary Shelter, Dem­oli­tion and Re­con­struc­tion, which is in charge of (among other things) relocation, has a complex plan of charts, maps, and spreadsheets to accomplish its task. As opposed to DPA, which is building its homes on the site of destroyed ones, the government needs land, and lots of it.

The capital, Port-au-Prince, where most of the homeless live, has neither appropriate nor available space for massive relocation. The government has identified several sites totaling 6 million square meters (some 1,500 acres) for relocating people to the perimeters of the capital. But because it only owns 50 of the 600 hectares, it is currently in negotiations with private landowners who, in theory, are amenable to making a deal.

But that requires beaucoup de bucks. Already cash poor, the government lost 80 percent of its revenue and 30,000 commercial structures after the quake, say government officials. It's hoping that the international community and lending institutions will bridge its financial gap. The commission estimates that relocation from an emergency to transitional shelter will cost $367 per person. "We have to have cash in hand within the next six weeks," says commission member Gerald-Emile Brun, an architect with 35 years experience. "Otherwise people are going to drown."

Mr. Brun hopes that at least 80 percent of the cost of acquiring land will be carried by the international community and lending institutions, and that eventually the US will cover the rest. Then the land has to be prepared and services provided. This could take weeks, months, even years.

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