A Red House:
Most member families were living in dilapidated shacks when we started the Housing Program back in 2010. They suffered from leaky metal roofs, drafty walls, and dirt floors. During the wet months especially, they lived in damp and muddy conditions, a situation conducive to upper respiratory problems. With their limited income going mostly into food, they were unable to make improvements in their housing situation.
The Exec Board decided we needed to help them in substantial ways. We launched the "Gift of Hope: Christmas 2009" campaign to alleviate the worst of these housing problems as quickly as funds allowed. That first year we called the effort: "Raise Maria's Roof," because Maria Rodriquez was living in the worst house and so became the first beneficiary of this program. Two other Marias also were in great need of roof replacements, and they became the next two beneficiaries during 2010.
By early 2014, as a result of generous support from our Friends and other organizations, a total of fourteen houses had been completed. During 2014 we hope to build the last three houses that are required. Four families already lived in adequate housing or only needed a roof over an outdoor kitchen--rather than en entire house.
The Red House design has become the standard for Families United. It typically starts with erecting an "umbrella roof" over the old house. That much costs $2200. It's the first step--but it sheds rain very effectively. The rest of the house is built typically eighteen months later--partly to give the family time to pay down some of the debt they have incurred, before they take on more debt to complete the house. The final step--a concrete floor and steel walls--requires another $2300. The standard house is 500 square feet, made entirely of steel framing and steel panels, welded and metal-screwed together for rigidity and durability. It has a concrete floor, two secure doors, and a minimum of four windows. It comes with an electrical system, an attached wash house, and a latrine. The price tag: $4500.
The homeowner is required to pay 20% of the total cost--$900 interest-free. Since no local bank would be willing to loan such a large amount to a poor family, the member applies for a loan from the Associations's Savings & Loan FUND. The monthly repayment is set at $10.
You can find more photos of our housing program in action by clicking on "Photos" in the top menu.