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Housing & Settlements

Haut Damier Housing Site in St Marc
Haut Damier Housing Site in St Marc


A longstanding challenge in Haiti, the deficit of adequate, affordable housing was significantly exacerbated by the 2010 earthquake. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has played a critical role in the housing and settlements sector in Haiti during the immediate response to the 2010 earthquake and now as Haiti works to rebuild. Having shifted gears from essential emergency relief to long-term development, USAID is now concentrating on finding solutions to barriers for adequate supply of affordable housing stock in the country. By collaborating with the Government of Haiti (GOH) and leveraging key partnerships, USAID is focusing on upgrading infrastructure in existing neighborhoods and increasing access to housing finance. This approach builds on Haitian citizens’ own efforts to secure improved housing and create settlements solutions themselves.


  • Lack of Quality Housing Stock: Over the next 10 years, the GOH estimates that the country will require up to 500,000 additional housing units to make up for the pre-earthquake housing shortage, replace stock lost during the disaster, and accommodate the high amount of expected urban growth.
  • Unplanned Urban Growth: Roughly 70 percent of Port-au-Prince’s pre-earthquake population lived in informal settlements. These neighborhoods lack access to basic services and are often located in high-risk zones. Working with the GOH and the communities themselves to better plan and upgrade these neighborhoods could immediately improve the lives of these households.
  • Limited Management Capacity: The GOH continues to recover from the effects of the 2010 earthquake and improve weak institutions. USAID is working to increase the capacity of key Haitian government counterparts to manage and implement housing and settlements solutions.
  • Unclear Land Tenure: Unclear land tenure poses an ongoing challenge to formal housing development. In many cases, particularly in lower-income areas, land tenure is governed by a range of informal arrangements between renters and owners.

USAID Strategies & Activities

Knowing that the need for safe, low-cost housing far exceeds what donors can meet through new construction, USAID launched a new approach to tackle the problem. This strategy, designed to achieve greater cost efficiency and sustainability, works to create the conditions necessary for Haitians to obtain improved housing and secure settlements solutions themselves. The approach is guided by four key objectives:

  • Improve the conditions of existing low-income neighborhoods through better urban planning and targeted infrastructure investments.

  • Leverage low-income households’ ability to construct their own homes. This will be done by connecting them to more affordable housing finance or to land with water, sanitation and/or electricity infrastructure, where they can build incrementally over time.

  • Help the private sector, such as financing institutions and housing developers, play a greater role in housing construction.

  • Strengthen local and national government institutions responsible for this sector.

Housing Finance and Supply: By developing and testing new means to access finance, USAID’s strategy promotes equitable expansion of the housing sector designed for people with different levels of income. This pilot initiative provides innovative housing finance that help participating financial institutions better evaluate and find eligible borrowers. USAID is also targeting weaknesses on the supply side of the housing sector by increasing capacity among local developers to build affordable housing units.

Management and Urban Planning: To enhance sustainability, USAID is also working to build the capacity of the GOH to manage the housing sector. Urban planning assistance is provided to the Housing Construction and Public Buildings Unit, which oversees national housing policy, and the Public Enterprise for the Promotion of Public Housing, the lead agency for public housing.

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