Rent of the Day: $375

The yearly cost of living in a tent city in Port-au-Prince

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Reuters

This month marks the second anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince. Two years later, only five percent of those in need have been housed. The 550,000 others are still living in tent cities squeezed into alleyways and onto road sides, according to estimates from UNICEF.

In these "neighborhoods," the informal economy is thriving. "Landlords" charge rents of $375 a year. The price, which jumped from $312 a year ago, does not include drains, running water or electricity.

"This is misery," said Florival, whose 4-month-old daughter was crushed to death in the quake-stricken family home. "I don't see any benefits," said Alexis, whose shed is flooded with noise at night from a saloon next door that's appropriately named the "Frustration Bar."

Governments and NGOs have spent upwards of $2.38 billion to try and build the city "back better." In the months after the quake, officials envisioned replacing the slums and shantytowns with new housing stock.

But successes so far are few and far between. Much of Port-au-Prince remains almost entirely undeveloped. According to the Associated Press, there's no shortage of reasons why this is the case.

Beyond being among the world's poorest nations and a frequent victim of destructive weather, Haiti's land registry is in chaos — a drag on reconstruction because it's not always clear who owns what land. Then there's a political standoff that went on for more than a year and still hobbles decision-making.

Of course, there has been some progress - 600 classrooms, 5 million cubic meters of rubble cleared, roads newly paved. But housing remains a dire need, and there's little hope of quick relief.

About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.