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Habitat for Humanity homes falling apart

Residents blame shoddy construction and sub-standard materials

President Benigno Aquino lays a block on one of the first houses being built by Habitat for Humanity for flood victims in Cagayan de Oro on December 16, 2011. (Photo courtesy of All Hands Volunteers) President Benigno Aquino lays a block on one of the first houses being built by Habitat for Humanity for flood victims in Cagayan de Oro on December 16, 2011. (Photo courtesy of All Hands Volunteers)
  • Lance Daniel Baconguis, Cagayan de Oro City
  • Philippines
  • August 17, 2012
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Houses constructed for victims of massive floods in Mindanao last December are showing signs of breaking down less than four months after the beneficiaries moved in.

Residents of a relocation site in Canitoan village in Cagayan de Oro City are complaining of substandard materials and sloppy construction work by building contractors. The houses were built for the government by Habitat for Humanity.

Marie Jane Damalan said her house, a quadruplex shared with three other families, has started to crack. They took up residence in late April this year.

“When we tried to drive nails in the wall, they went through. My husband found out the cement blocks used for the walls were hollow,” Damalan said.

The floor of another house caved in. Resident Delia Relosa said it was not thick enough. During construction of the houses, she said, the earth was not compacted after it was bulldozed to remove coconut trees.

An electrician in the village reportedly fell from a roof after trying to hold onto a metal beam that hadn’t been welded on.

Eliezer Vicente Banares, project manager of Habitat for Humanity in Cagayan de Oro, said cracking walls are normal occurrences. He added that the homes were built on “natural ground,” but he assured the residents the organization would look into their complaints.

Habitat for Humanity, an international volunteer organization, worked within a tight budget but never compromised the quality of houses it built through partner agencies, Banares said.

Araceli Solamillo, regional director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, said it is the first time she heard about the complaint and promised to send people to look into the concerns of the residents.

“We will find out if this is true and what can be done,” Solamillo said.

Banares said Habitat will survey the cracks and complaints but insisted that the houses were well-made.

Each quadruplex unit cost the government 110,000 pesos (about US$2,600) to build.

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