By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The government is aiming to raise $40m from private sector donors to finance “sustainable housing repairs or reconstruction” for Dorian victims who lacked the necessary insurance coverage.
Documents released ahead of next Monday’s “pledging” conference, where the government is teaming with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to raise such financing, reveal that this sum will supplement the $10m the government is making available to help homeowners rebuild in a manner that will make their properties more resilient to hurricanes and natural disasters.
The same papers also reveal that 60 percent of homes in the Marsh Harbour and central Abaco area have been rendered “uninhabitable” by the category five storm, with just ten percent of piped water supplies having been restored.
“The initial housing damage assessment indicates that 60 percent of the houses are uninhabitable, 20 percent are habitable and 30 percent need repair and retrofitting,” the government reports reveal. “Approximately 9,000 homes and in excess of 11 million square feet of structures have sustained some damage on Abaco and Grand Bahama.
“Damages to the housing sector on both islands were estimated at $1.48bn, with 88.9 percent of the housing damage recorded in Abaco. Losses in the housing sector are attributed to the interruption of accommodation and rental services due to severe damage or destruction of the house, making it temporarily or permanently uninhabitable.
“The assessment team estimated losses of $56.8m resulting from 2,894 homes left uninhabitable after the hurricane. Additional costs of $45.9m included in this assessment refer to the cost of demolition of the most affected dwellings, debris cleaning, and labour and equipment rental cost.”
To better withstand Dorian-type storms in the future, the government report said The Bahamas needed to develop “an affordable but resilient housing system and communities that are capable of withstanding shocks associated with the impact of climate change”.
It added: “The design and construction of affordable homes to withstand ever increasingly strong hurricanes, flooding, storm surges, wind, fire damage and other natural hazards will be critical to the resilient housing initiative.
“Other essential factors include: The enforcement of The Bahamas Building Code Edition 3, and future codes as and when revised; use of resilient materials (hurricane proof doors, roofing, windows); safety-related codes and criteria for local construction (land elevation); providing at-risk low income groups’ access to qualified technical professionals (architects and engineers); and improving awareness of households and communities.”
The government added that it has identified two 60-acre parcels of elevated Crown Land, located near Marsh Harbour and Wilson City, as potential sites for new subdivisions. Priced at $20,000 per acre, their collective worth is pegged at $2.4m.
It is now seeking private sector investment, valued at $21m or $10.5m per subdivision, to develop infrastructure for two 200-lot subdivisions with plots sized at 75 feet by 100 feet. Roads, open space, community parks and renewable energy are to be incorporated.