Macroshelters: good idea for homeless & poor in wealthy nations?

Tom Boland (
Mon, 19 Apr 1999 13:24:21 -0700 (PDT)

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Could macroshelters benefit homeless people in wealthy countries?

See related article below:
FWD  CNN - February 14, 1999


     Ten structures to serve 20,000 or more

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) -- Officials Sunday began moving
thousands left homeless by Hurricane Mitch into giant,
hastily built shelters, looking for a temporary solution to
the housing crisis caused by the storm.

The "macroshelters" -- clusters of small rooms made of wooden
frames, wallboard and chicken wire, with shared bathroom
facilities -- have generated little enthusiasm among the
homeless and the humanitarian organizations building

But with the need to clear schools and other buildings that
have been used as shelters, they see few alternatives.

"No one is very happy about it, and no one has a better
solution," said Beltrand Diego, head of the International
Organization of Migration's Honduran mission.

About 10 shelters are expected to serve more than 20,000
homeless people, said Diego, whose organization is overseeing
the construction. The first shelter, built in a month, opened
Sunday in Tegucigalpa for about 600 people.

The shelters are designed to be used for up to 13 months,
which aid organizations believe will give them time to find
permanent housing. Diego said no more than five people will
live in a single room. The organizations and the government
will provide health care and security.

School buses and pickup trucks moved the new residents from
schools and churches where they have lived in cramped and
unsanitary conditions since the hurricane. The late October
storm hit Honduras hardest, killing thousands and causing
billions of dollars in damage.

Most of the homeless carried their few possessions in paper
bags or a few cardboard boxes.

"I won't be satisfied until I get my house," said Juana
Martinez, 48, who moved with her five children. "This shelter
isn't my house."

"I don't like this place," added Fernando Avilez, 22.
"Everything's prefabricated. This isn't a house."

With classes beginning March 1 in Honduras, officials need to
move people out of schools and find healthier homes for them.
But there is a shortage of available land, especially in the
capital of Tegucigalpa, and prices have risen with the
growing demand.

Many large families left homeless and poor can't find an
affordable house. They include the family of Lesli Suyapa
Valladares Orillana, who is pregnant with her eighth child
and has been living in a classroom.

"We are searching for rooms, but there aren't any available
because with so many children, no one wants to rent to us,"
she said.


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