Fri | Nov 22, 2019

Bahamas announces housing initiatives to assist residents displaced by Hurricane Dorian

Published:Monday | November 4, 2019 | 12:30 PM
Bahamas Prime Minister, Dr Hubert Minnis - File photo

NASSAU, Bahamas, CMC – The government of The Bahamas will be establishing an independent and non-political body to help fund housing and building repairs for Abaco and Grand Bahama residents impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

Speaking during a press conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said that the Bahamas National Recovery and Reconstruction Trust Fund will provide vulnerable residents with up to US$10,000 in grant money per household to assist families with building supplies, labour or some combination of both.

“A committee of subject matter experts will help to operationalise the fund’s efforts and to connect public and private stakeholders,” explained Minnis.

He said the fund will receive applications from Bahamians in need, and work with pre-selected contractors and project managers to pre-approve applications, inspect houses, disburse funds directly to contractors or building suppliers, and receive necessary Government approvals.

While the Government will provide the initial start-up funds, the private independent trust will be responsible for collecting and distributing funds for recovery efforts to ensure transparency and full accountability, said Minnis, adding that more details would be released as the fund is developed.

The fund is expected to complement other public and private initiatives to get displaced residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama back into their homes as quickly as possible.

He said the Government’s Family Relief Centre will accommodate 125 of 250 domes that will temporarily house Abaco residents near Spring City.

The remaining 125 domes will be made available for local residents in Abaco who are restoring and or repairing their homes.

So far, the Spring City and Central Pines Sub-divisions have been identified as locations for some of the remaining domes.

“This allows residents who have lost homes in those areas to rebuild while staying on or near their properties,” Minnis said.

The first shipment of 40 domes is scheduled to arrive in mid-November and will be placed in the Spring City Sub-division.

Assessments are ongoing to determine the number of domes that will be placed in the Central Pines Sub-divisions and to identify other possible locations.

Minnis reported that Samaritan’s Purse, an international NGO, is targeting a total of 1,000 permanent home repairs and whole-house repairs.

This work will be done in partnership with local churches and local contractors and will be carried out in compliance with “Build Back Better” principles.

This programme will also include working through churches to provide vouchers to local hardware stores for the most vulnerable to replace household assets.

In addition to the 422 roofs tarped by Samaritan’s Purse across Grand Bahama and Abaco to date, the organisation is further targeting 500 Rapid Roof Repairs on both islands in partnership with USAID.

Minnis said the International Red Cross has also committed to repair 1,000 homes that have received minor to moderate damage.

It is assessing if it can provide additional assistance for the full reconstruction of homes, and how it may be able to provide financial resources to 2,000 households.

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