The Force for Reflection and Action on Housing (FRAKKA) is a Haitian grassroots housing rights coalition made up of 26 grassroots organizations and camp committees. Founded after the earthquake, FRAKKA advocates for secure and dignifying housing for all, and for an end to unlawful forced evictions.
33 months after the earthquake, almost 400,000 people remain under tents, living in deplorable conditions that shouldn’t be fit for animals. The social and economic situation of displaced people deteriorates daily. In addition, Tropical Storm Isaac damaged many camps. We fear the rest of hurricane season, knowing that more storms will increase the difficulties faced by displaced people.
The government’s relocation program: 16/6
At the beginning of 2012, the Haitian government began propaganda to make the international community believe that it was addressing the issues faced by displaced people, those still living under tents. The government secured international financing for its 16/6 relocation program.
Contrary to what the Martelly government wants people to believe, we do not view ‘16/6’ as a relocation program at all. It is rather an official program of forced eviction. The government has given displaced families $500 USD to rent houses. Whether the money is accepted or not, families are forced to leave the spaces they occupy. No matter how small a family is, $500 will only rent a tiny space in a slum for a year. A year later, families will be out on the streets again.
In reality, most of the displaced people that have accepted this money have contributed to swelling slums on Hospital Mountain (in a neighborhood called Jalousie) or the growing settlement north of Port-au-Prince called Canaan.
Evictions that don’t respect human dignity and rights
There is contradiction in the government’s actions: With one hand, they pay for people to return to Jalousie. With the other hand, they have a plan to destroy houses in Jalousie for environmental protection.
In order to protect Hospital Mountain (Morne L’Hopitale), the Haitian government recently attempted to evict several hundred families that have lived in Jalousie for decades. Similarly, on Monday, July 23, 2012, in order to protect the National Park LaVisite, the government carried out a violent eviction in which four people were killed (Nicolas David, Enose Desir, Aléus Desir and Volcin Robenson), two children disappeared, and five houses were destroyed. Two peasant farmers (Elius Alfred and Jean Louis Saint Fort) remained in prison without charges until September 14, 2012. Warrants are out for the arrest of several dozen peasants that live in the park, while the justice system has yet to prosecute the murderers.
We, members of FRAKKA, denounce the official, criminal forced evictions taking place in Haiti today, which violate human beings’ basic rights, as well as national law and international conventions.
Government housing plans and so-called ‘Reconstruction’
FRAKKA has heard that international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the Haitian government have spent several billion US dollars by since the earthquake. We don’t believe that the results have been in the interest of the country or in the interest of the hundreds of thousands of people living in incredible poverty.
We denounce the 1,000 “houses” being built by the Martelly-Lamothe government at the base of Goat Mountain (Morne Cabrit)– a project that people refer to as “the Goat Mountain cemetery.” We believe that any government that respects itself couldn’t provide its citizens with the farcical structures being built there as homes for humans to live in. We can infer from this that the government does not consider poor people to be human beings.
We have seen a document that the government’s Housing and Public Buildings Construction Unit (UCLBP) has prepared, called a national housing plan. This document demonstrates to us that the government has no interest or desire to seriously respond to the problem of affordable housing. It is one more step that paves the way for the private sector to make money.
There is a governmental institution called the Public Agency for the Promotion of Social Housing (EPPLS) – this institution is supposed to deal with public housing. A team that works for the president with no legal mandate (ie. the UCLBP) cannot adequately resolve the housing problem. Affordable housing is more than a right; it has become a necessity. This is why we call on the government to create a Ministry of Housing.
In the same vein, we protest the $224 million dollars that donor governments and International Financial Institutions have given to build Caracol, a free trade zone in the North. Peasant farmers have been evicted from fertile land that could be producing food in favor of a garment assembly factory. Meanwhile, history shows throughout the world – even in Haiti in the 1980’s – that factories cannot develop a country. Money, technology, human resources and manual labor should instead be invested in national production, which is the primary route towards sustainable development.
FRAKKA calls on the Haitian government to:
- Drop the warrants against the peasant farmers in the National Park LaVisite;
- End forced evictions, in displacement camps and elsewhere;
- Define a land use plan that clearly designates land for agriculture, for building houses, protected land for forests, etc;
- Claim through eminent domain the land necessary to build public housing that will allow people to get out of displacement camps, out of Jalousie, and out of the national parks and into houses where they can live as human beings with dignity;
- Pay particular attention to women’s rights in any housing construction projects. Ensure that housing titles have both wives and husbands names on them, and ensure that women are provided with equal inheritance rights. Any housing policy must protect women’s rights to security, especially for women-headed households. Women and men have equal housing rights.
- Parliament must prepare and ratify legislation that guarantees the right to housing, as Article 22 of the 1987 Constitution and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights mandate.
- Rent control legislation must be enforced.
Force for Reflection and Action on Housing (FRAKKA)
Delmas 3, Rue du Foyer #26, Phone: 22270754, 38228829