Jean Baptiste Azolin George Washington University 24 November 2014
Article 22 of the Haitian Constitution (not changed in the amended constitution): “ The State recognizes that all the country’s citizens have the right to good housing”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights references these rights More than 12 UN texts recognizes the right for people to live in quality housing.
Globally, housing needs to have the following elements: ◦ Adequate privacy ◦ Enough space for people to move around ◦ A good system of security ◦ Quality electricity/ lighting ◦ Enough openings for air circulation ◦ All basic infrastructure ◦ ◦ ◦ The area is not too far from people’s work All services that are important in people’s lives It shouldn’t be too expensive.
We can’t continue to live in these conditions wherein everyday all our essential rights as people and as communities are disrespected Everyone needs to struggle against eviction and we demand reparatoins for everyone who was a victim of forced eviction.
The Haitian government, dominant classes and international institutions don’t respond to housing problems of millions of Haitians for a long time that was made worse in January 12, 2010 We reject these false “photocopy” solutions (T-shelters that don’t solve the question, that don’t really protect our lives and that don’t respect our dignity and the way our families used to live).
We resolve to continue the struggle to force the state to define a global policy on housing that guarantees the right of all Haitians to have a home to live in that respects their dignity as people.
The government must define a land use policy for the country. We must not forget that this has been poorly defined since long before January 12. Before the earthquake, 80% of the population in Port-au-Prince was living in 20% of the land. The Parliament must draft and vote on a law to guarantee the right to housing in this nation, as outlined in Article 22 of the Haitian Constitution of 1987, as well as in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This law must define the codes that all people must respect for housing construction (soil, materials, distance, basic services, environment, aesthetics, etc.).
The government must look for and acquire land though expropriation [eminent domain] so that there is sufficient space to respond to the housing needs of the population.
The population must participate in decision-making regarding where new houses and neighborhoods are being constructed. We have to say what Port-au-Prince we want to build.
The government must immediately create a special fund to finance public housing. There is a lot of money being wasted that could be invested instead to respect the population’s right to housing. MINUSTAH’s budget for only 12 months could allow the construction of more than 77,000 houses and give nearly 400,000 people respectable homes to live in. Homes and land are the source of life that allow people to live, grow, be safe, and help families to reproduce. They aren’t merchandise to make money for the few. The government must hurry so that everyone with limited means can get housing that respects their human dignity. The government must implement rent control, since rents have skyrocketed and [sometimes] must be paid in US dollars The government must guarantee our security as to where we live
The right to housing cannot be separated from our other rights: the right to work, the right to health, the right to education, the right to leisure, the right to a clean environment, etc. We ask the Haitian Parliament to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as a tool that can strengthen our struggle to defend our rights. In house construction, they must plan for public spaces.
Create village communities where each family has its own space and the community has space for collective activities. We believe that cooperative housing is a viable alternative.
We want houses that respect our local architectural style and that use as much local materials as possible. We must defend our local architectural heritage.
Corruption in the State, NGOs, and IHRC needs to stop.
Special activities for children must be developed. In every neighborhood there needs to be space to help us build our collective memory as a people.
In housing built and collective infrastructure we need to remember the rights of people with disabilities and facilitate their free movement in everyday life All housing construction needs to give a special attention to women’s rights.
Projects need to consider children’s needs
Thank you very much