PORT-AU-PRINCE — A country club golf course that became a refuge for tens of thousands of people left homeless in Haiti’s capital by a 2010 earthquake has cleared out the remaining residents.
They either will get or already have received a $500 rental subsidy, obtained from a local bank, to help them find a new place, along with an extra $40 for transportation and $110 to ease the move, Beach said.
The camp was erected on Haiti’s only golf course, the Petionville Club, in the days and weeks after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake clobbered the capital and cities in the south, killing tens of thousands of people.
The nine-hole course swelled to an estimated 60,000 people but became famous largely because Penn assumed responsibility for the settlement as he founded the relief organization to help people return to their old neighborhoods.
The relocation effort was criticized early on for encouraging about 5,000 people from the camp to move to Corail-Cesselesse, an arid field about 10 miles north of Port-au-Prince.
Still, Penn’s involvement in Haiti’s reconstruction effort prompted President Michel Martelly to appoint the actor an ambassador-at-large for Haiti.
It was not clear what the owners of the Petionville Club will do with the land. William Evans III, president and managing director, didn’t respond to requests for comment. As many as 1.5 million people lost their homes in the earthquake. The number of residents living in camp has dwindled to about 146,000, the International Organization for Migration says.
The clearing of camps like the Petionville Club signals a return to life for Haitians. One public plaza that housed earthquake survivors served as the stage for a New Orleans jazz band, the Soul Rebels, on Friday.
Housing advocates worry that the lives of people displaced by the earthquake haven’t improved much despite the drop in camp populations. Rent subsidies will end within a year and it’s unclear if people will be able to afford rent after that.
“This is not meant for a long-term solution,” Beach said. “It’s kind of a first step. It’s to get them in a house where they can close and lock a door, secure their belongings and go search for a job.’’