The Wider Image: In Puerto Rico, a housing crisis U.S. storm aid won't solve

Source: Reuters - Tue, 6 Feb 2018 14:07 PM
Author: Reuters
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Among the countless Puerto Rico neighbourhoods battered by Hurricane Maria is one named after another storm: Villa Hugo. The illegal shantytown emerged on a public wetland after 1989's Hurricane Hugo left thousands homeless. About 6,000 squatters landed here, near the El Yunque National Forest, and built makeshift homes on 40 acres that span a low-lying valley and its adjacent mountainside. Wood and concrete dwellings, their facades scrawled with invented addresses, sit on cinder blocks. After Maria, many are missing roofs; some have collapsed altogether. Villa Hugo reflects a much larger crisis in this impoverished U.S. territory, where so-called "informal" homes are estimated to house about half the population of 3.4 million. Some residents built on land they never owned. Others illegally subdivided properties, often so family members could build on their lots. Most have no title to their homes, which are constructed without permits and usually not up to building codes. Many have plumbing and power, though not always through official means. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins SEARCH "RAWLINS HUGO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. Matching text: USA-PUERTORICO/HOUSING