This development is a very big deal in Santa Cruz, where land is in high demand and short supply. Before, properties that came on the market were too expensive for Germán and most other families. Through the advocacy efforts of Habitat Honduras and other nonprofits, private businesses, community groups and public officials, the city of Santa Cruz has adopted a policy so that more families can afford decent homes.
“At Habitat, we build houses, but we all need to advocate for the cause of affordable housing and to combine efforts to contribute to the solution,” says Habitat Honduras’ Benítez.
As part of the solution, the city sold land to Habitat Honduras, which is working alongside families to build the brightly painted homes with tin roofs. (Germán opted for the burnt orange over turquoise and deep gold.) The city and other partners are involved in providing roads, water and other services, as well as ways to keep down costs, including waiving building permit fees.
Germán had heard about plans for the development through word of mouth. Then one morning, while dropping Josué off at kindergarten, he saw a car with a Habitat logo and asked the driver for the address of the local office. The next day, he filled out an application and was approved a week later. He threw himself into earning his sweat equity hours, helping to build the cinderblock foundation. “It is everyone’s dream to own a house in Honduras. I dreamed what it would be like,” Germán says.
Now he knows. The two-bedroom house is more spacious than the place where he and the boys had been living. Although the mortgage is a little more, Germán says, the house offers something the rental did not: stability. He doesn’t have to worry about rising rents or the whims of landlords.
He is more at peace than he’s ever been. “I go outside in the evening with my little chair, and I just take a look around. I feel good. I feel so good.”