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Red Cross-funded shelters help displaced Haitians return to their neighborhoods


Marie-Claudette Brutus beamed as she showed visitors her new home. The wood-sided, semi-permanent structure with a metal roof is nestled among a grove of palm and banana trees on the outskirts of Leogane, a city at the epicenter of last year’s devastating earthquake in Haiti. The house is neatly decorated with pink curtains, and big cooking pots hang from the walls. A cluster of stuffed animals belongs to the youngest of her four children.

“I love it,” Marie-Claudette said of her new home, which was built by Habitat for Humanity with funding from the American Red Cross. She is especially grateful to be back in her former neighborhood, surrounded by extended family – she has 12 siblings in the area – and the warmth of community.

Thanks to financial support from the American Red Cross, thousands of families across Haiti have made similar transitions from makeshift camps into safer and sturdy new homes in their former neighborhoods.

As of June 30th, 2,655 semi-permanent homes – enough for more than 13,000 people – had been built by partner organizations with American Red Cross funding. Having allocated $28 million for semi-permanent shelters, including water and sanitation services, the American Red Cross plans to fund construction of 6,500 homes by the end of the year.

In addition to Habitat for Humanity, other American Red Cross partners building semi-permanent shelters in Haiti include UNOPS, Haven, Handicap International, and ACTED.

Marie-Claudette, who is 31 years old, said her new home is a vast improvement over the tent her family lived in for months after their former house was destroyed in the earthquake.

“I feel more secure here,” she said. “We used to get wet every day” in the tent. “When it rained it was very hard for us, but we had nowhere else to go. It’s much more comfortable to sleep here.”

The global Red Cross network, which aims to help 30,000 Haitian families transition to safer, more secure homes, has already completed more than 10,000 semi-permanent homes, including those funded by the American Red Cross.