Each Rainbow Network house is 20’ x 20’ and is made of cement blocks and cement floors, front and back doors that lock, a tin roof, and a window. There are several vertical and horizontal seismic beams, built to withstand movements from volcanoes and earthquakes, which Nicaragua is known for. Each house has a covered porch for families to build their cook stove on, providing proper ventilation and preventing chronic respiratory problems caused by the continuous inhalation of smoke.
Houses are typically built in groups of 25, and each house comes with a latrine, electricity, access to clean drinking water, and area for a garden. From start to finish, it takes around seven months to construct an entire housing project.
Rainbow Network has one paid foreman that trains community members throughout the building process and oversees the construction of the houses. Once all the houses are completed, there is a large celebration with a lottery drawing to determine which family will move in to each house. Several hundred people are generally in attendance at the celebration, including the community members, neighboring community members, Rainbow Network staff, local government officials, and several media representatives.
How is a family chosen to receive a house?
When Rainbow Network knows it will have the funds to build a housing project and obtains the land to build on, an application process begins with those that are interested in having a new house. Community leaders and Rainbow Network staff explain the process of completing an application and the stipulations that come with moving into a Rainbow Network house.
Like each Rainbow Network program, housing is not handed out. In order to “pay back” in the housing program, each family chosen for a house must have at least one family member work on the houses a minimum of two days per week. Once the houses are completed, families must take out a mortgage to pay back the cost of materials for their home.
Mortgages, on average, are for 25 years. If the family does not have an ongoing income to cover the monthly mortgage payment, they must join a Rainbow Network Micro-Loan Program to start a small business out of their house.
Once their house is paid off, the families will receive the deed to the land with their house.