New Haiti aid projects include 1st mortgage system

Home mortgages will become available to much of the Haitian public for the first time under a new program funded by international donors, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Monday after a meeting of the earthquake reconstruction commission he co-chairs with Haiti's prime minister.

The new program will include "micro-mortgages" so that even very poor people can get financing to buy a house, Clinton said, outlining the program in brief remarks to reporters after the meeting at a hotel in the Haitian capital, which is still largely in ruins more than a year after the devastating earthquake. Details of the program weren't provided.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, also presided over by Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, is deciding how to spend the billions in aid pledged for reconstruction in a country where more than 500,000 people whose homes were destroyed in the quake are still living in dismal tent camps and shantytowns.

"I'm optimistic but it is not going to be easy," Clinton said.

The group approved 13 projects with a total value of $255 million at its meeting Monday. They also included a census that will help the government and its international partners find vacant land for new construction, the former president said.

Also at the meeting were delegates from Spain and Japan who said their governments would be turning over about $30 million each toward their previous pledges of support to Haiti reconstruction. The international community pledged more than $5.6 billion to help Haiti rebuild but less than half of that money has been provided so far.