Here’s a little info provided by Habitat El Salvador about their work:
Habitat El Salvador was born in 1992, in Santa Ana. Nowadays, our National Office is located in the heart of San Salvador. From there, it coordinates and supports the work of seven regional offices distributed across the country: Santa Ana, Sonsonate, San Salvador, La Paz, San Vicente, Usulután and San Miguel.
As many Habitat programs do around the world, Habitat El Salvador builds simple, decent, affordable homes for low-income families, offering all people regardless of religion, political party, or race an opportunity to put their faith and love into action.
As a product of profound land distribution problems, there is a critical housing crisis in El Salvador. An already dire situation is exacerbated each year by natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. To this date, more than 500,000 Salvadoran families are in need of decent, affordable housing. That is equivalent to saying that around half of the country’s population lives in substandard housing. Because of the population growth rate, an additional 35,000 houses are needed each year.
What we build:
The basic 450-square-foot layout includes two bedrooms, living and dining areas, and either an outdoor latrine or a bathroom, if sewer services are available. The houses are made of seismic-resistant concrete blocks and are structurally reinforced with steel to protect against the earthquakes that trouble this area.
Our GV teams work on all stages of construction, from digging the foundation to painting the houses. Regardless of what stage your house is in when you arrive, your responsibilities will likely include: carrying bricks, mixing cement, moving and compacting dirt, etc. You will be working with the partner families and with a mason on site who will teach you how things are done, and help you distribute the tasks for everyone on your team.
Q. Does Habitat supply electricity/water services to the families?
A. It depends. The cost for connecting to the grids will depend much on the development on the community, and if there are lightning posts or water lines running near their terrain. Families usually take their choice on whether they want to do it right away or wait for a little while and save money to go on with the connection by themselves or seek financial and technical assistance from Habitat.
Q. What is the sweat equity required for families?
A. For each day of construction, at least two members of the partner family must help build in order to contribute to “sweat equity.” The cost of a Habitat house is currently US$8,000, with the families paying an average monthly mortgage of US$65 over a period of 10 to 13 years.
Q. What is the yearly “inflation” rate for housing solutions?
A. 6% for new homes and 18% for home improvements
Q. What will happen if the family isn’t able to continue paying for their homes?
A. Some concessions could be made, i.e. in case of disability or death of the head of the household, insurance will pay the cost of the house. Also, there could be an agreement between Habitat and the home owners in case they lose their jobs or any other situation the family is dealing with.
Q. I’ve heard that earthquakes and floods are common in El Salvador. Are Habitat houses prepared for disasters?
A. Habitat El Salvador takes risk management very seriously. Before all build, each terrain is assessed to guarantee that the family will live in a safe area, and special changes could be made to the design of the house in case it’s needed. All houses have insurance against disasters, so they will be fixed or rebuilt in case anything happens to them.
Q. Will a team come to build in this house after we’re gone? Or will it be just the masons?
A. Not all houses in El Salvador have volunteers working in them for many reasons: locations, schedules and security. We host around 250 national and international teams every year, and we distribute them among the around 500 new homes built each year.
Q. For how long does a family have to wait to get a Habitat home?
A. Nothing at all! Oh wait, maybe a little. The approval process for a Habitat house depends on how fast the family will gather all the documentation such as permissions to build, credit records, and such which depends on banks or government offices (it’s not a long wait, either). After the credit for the house has been approved, the average waiting time is minimal. The house is ready to be built!