In September 2017, Hurricane Irma struck Sint Maarten (SXM), and devastated a significant portion of the island nation’s building stock, including 70-80% of the housing.1 According to the Sint Maarten National Recovery and Resilience Plan, the estimated damage to the housing sector was USD 442 million.2 The tourism and commerce sectors were also debilitated. Sint Maarten has since made a tremendous recovery. However, much remains to be done in terms of repairs and reconstruction, and preparing for the next hurricane season.
This rapid assessment of Sint Maarten’s housing sector was undertaken to facilitate a dialogue with the Sint Maarten government regarding housing development, reconstruction activities, and disaster preparedness under the Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund. The need for more – and more affordable – housing has been a long-standing issue in Sint Maarten. According to the 2012 SXM Housing Vision Report, more than 500 new houses were needed yearly to fill the low- and middle-income housing demand. It is believed this number has increased significantly after Hurricane Irma, and addressing the housing gap is critical priority for recovery.
Due to the limited availability of data, this report is more qualitative than quantitative, but provides a broad overarching understanding of Sint Maarten’s housing sector. It also presents policy recommendations and guidance to make the sector more resilient to disasters and more responsive to residents’ needs, particularly for low- and middle-income households. It is important to note that some of the ideas presented as part of this guidance will need to be further developed and vetted with the government and relevant stakeholders.