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Hurricane victims get new homes

But leaky plumbing is one of the quality issues identified with the houses

It looked like a good-news story — 42 families who lost their homes to hurricane damage in Guerrero were handed the keys Friday to new homes built for them with money from the Natural Disasters Fund.

But just a few paragraphs in and the problems and issues begin to appear. Toilets and sinks are leaking, unsightly plumbing serving the upper stories is visible on the walls of the units below and laundry rooms are tiny. In fact, the units themselves are tiny. And entry doors are fragile looking and windows have no security protection.

(Leaky plumbing is not currently a problem in many of the homes: the majority have no electricity or running water.) Another criticism is that the new housing, while not far from either Chilpancingo or the Autopista del Sol, is in an area not served by public transit.

However, a federal official who was on hand to turn over the keys allowed that the homes are safe from either landslides or earthquakes.

Alfredo Fernández of Sedatu, the Secretariat of Agrarian Development and Urban Planning, after being asked by reporters about the imperfections in the houses, said he would be prepared to live in one if he were permitted to do so. But he directed questions about quality issues to the contractor.

These 42 houses are among several thousand that have been built for people who have been displaced by the two storms.

The families who took possession on Friday were forced to leave their homes 16 months ago when the Huacapa River overflowed its banks because of Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid. Since then, the families have lifted in a shelter in Chilpancingo.

At least flooding should not be a problem in their new dwellings, unless the leaky plumbing gets out of hand.

Sources: Milenio (sp)

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