LÉOGÂNE, Haiti — A father and four children, ages 15 to 25, share a home scarcely large enough to hold two beds and a table.
Like the many makeshift shelters that sprouted up here after the 2010 earthquake, it is a mishmash of tin, wood, plastic tarp, cardboard and paradoxically happy red placards advertising a cellphone company.
Designed to be temporary, the shelters nearly two years later feel eerily permanent. This one is small. It is hot. There is no window, so the only way to get air is to open the door. The dirt floor floods when it rains.
The outdoor kitchen is three rocks and a pile of burnt coal and wood. The bathroom is a washtub behind the home and a latrine down the way that the Fleuranvil family shares with some of the estimated 18,000 people who put down stakes in Léogâne.
But come January, Roland Fleuranvil and his children will trade this home for a sturdier one that, while small, promises more ventilation and stability in hurricane season.
The Fleuranvils are getting one of the 100 new Habitat for Humanity houses built by some 400 volunteers who have spent the week here on the annual Jimmy Carter building blitz.
Habitat is planning a 500-house site, called Santo, on what used to be a sugar cane field. The Irish nonprofit Haven built the development's first 50 houses last week. Habitat is building the rest, though it has not yet raised the funds to finish the project.
Fleuranvil was like many in Léogâne whose houses collapsed and crumbled after the 7.0 quake. And so the city's families gathered what they could and settled on open land, getting tarps a month after the quake and jury-rigging structures with whatever they could find.
The shelters sit off the road, amid leafy plantain trees, sugar cane fields and rows of crumbled buildings, some being cleaned up or rebuilt. Meals are cooked outdoors and vendors sprout up on roadsides to offer chewing gum, phones, coal and cut wood.
Unlike the large tent camps in Port-au-Prince, shelters here appear more spread out and bucolic, which is not to understate the rough conditions or the controversy the nearby Habitat development stirred up.
Some Haitians wanted the land used for agriculture, not housing. Protests at the build site, which sits yards away from the tent camps, forced officials to beef up security. Some volunteers have noted wryly that they feel like they're in a forced labor camp: it is surrounded by fencing and razor wire, armed guards patrol it, and no one is allowed off-site at any time for any reason.
So inside the site, a group of Omahans is helping erect the Fleuranvil family's house. Habitat requires the homeowners to help with the labor, so Fleuranvil's 23-year-old daughter, Daphné, mother of a toddler, has showed up every day to House 320.
She lugs materials and pitches in.
Through a translator, she said she hopes to be among those getting a second wave of Habitat homes so she can have her own place.
The Habitat houses measure 280 square feet, offering the floor space of an average single-car garage.
Though some volunteers and Haitians have questioned the size — saying it's too small — Daphné Fleuranvil said it was gift. And her family was glad to get it.
The Fleuranvils' neighbor in both the tent camp and Habitat sites, Evêque Latouche, echoed that gratitude.
The 58-year-old agricultural worker was building his own home in Léogâne and living with his sister when the quake struck. Latouche had just crossed a field to water his horse when he felt the earth shake.
He dropped to the ground while his horse circled and neighed.
His sister's home — and the one he was building — collapsed. Everyone survived.
Latouche eventually made another shelter for himself. It is scarcely big enough to hold his narrow single bed and a corner table. Standing inside on a sweltering afternoon was like stepping into an oven.
He only sleeps there.
But when he moves into House 319, which a group of Omaha volunteers is helping build, he is bringing along two daughters, ages 26 and 18, and a 6-year-old grandchild.
"He plans to split the inside — take a small part for himself and leave the rest for his daughters," said Ilio Durandis, a Boston-area chemist originally from Haiti who broke from construction work to translate the Haitian Creole Latouche speaks.
Latouche likes the Habitat home, Durandis said.
"Nothing he can say bad about it," Durandis said. "These kinds of houses — they won't even get them from the Haitian government."
Durandis later said he wouldn't expect any of the Haitian homeowners to complain, because they were trading up from their current shelters. But also because they might fear some kind of consequence.
Durandis said the Habitat homes are "a step up" but aren't as big as he'd like to see.
"This is not a solution," he said. "(Evêque) has four people who will live in there. How do they do that?
Habitat officials said the houses can be added onto as Haitian families are able. The houses are a little bigger than minimal international standards. And they said the development must be looked at in a broader context that includes the myriad difficulties of getting land and resources, as well as the urgent need.
Habitat is also running a number of other housing programs in post-quake Haiti that include training and hiring workers, building a couple thousand plywood-metal-roof temporary shelters and improving a Port-au-Prince neighborhood.
Patrick Corvington, vice president of volunteer and institutional engagement for Habitat, said the Habitat homes are "a lot better than where they're coming from."
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Video: Haitian-Americans help out