By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Some 2,069 homeowners have completed full registration for the Disaster Reconstruction Authority’s post-Dorian small home repair programme, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.
Iram Lewis, minister of state for disaster preparedness, management and reconstruction, told the House of Assembly: “Since the launch of the small home repair programme web portal, 3,137 persons set up user profiles. Of those 3,137 profiles, 2,069 homeowners have completed the full registration for assistance.
“Of the 2,069 homeowners registered, 804 need structural assessments, 471 need to upload documents, 404 approved have met all criteria and structural assessments. We are still waiting on 89 percent of homeowners to bring in their quotes so the purchase order can be issued.”
The initiative, which was launched on February 10, gives residents whose homes as assessed as having suffered minimal damages some $2,500 worth of building materials purchase orders. Those deemed to have medium damage are eligible for $5,000; those with major damages can receive $7,500; and those whose homes were destroyed up to $10,000. Purchase order recipients are able to effect home improvements, purchase materials and labour, or a combination of both.
To receive these benefits, the property has to be in Grand Bahama or Abaco. The person applying must be a Bahamian citizen, there must be proof of residence and the property would have to be uninsured. Materials have to be purchase from approved vendors in The Bahamas as the purchase orders cannot be used abroad.
“The Disaster Reconstruction Authority has also partnered with NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in Dorian-affected communities to assist with home repairs,” Mr Lewis added. “Through the partnership the government pays for home repair labour, and the NGOs provide supplies and various of logistical and technical assistance.”
The Disaster Reconstruction Authority, in a paper tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday, listed several “challenges” facing the reconstruction effort. The Bahamas “very expensive” construction costs were cited as one potential obstacle, given that building a small two-bedroom house often cost upwards of $70,000.
“While government and partners are starting to repair houses with minor damage, there is no current capacity identified to rebuild at scale destroyed homes or houses with structural damage,” the paper said.
“Due to the unprecedented scale of disaster impact for The Bahamas, building damage assessments have still to be completed and to be overlaid with social economic assessment data in order to fully allow gap analysis for the recovery response moving forward.
“Most of the houses damaged and destroyed came from non-compliance with The Bahamas’ building codes, and from the significant tidal surge flooding. Building back better, technical assistance and quality control for enhanced building code compliance is needed to reinforce the resilience of affected Bahamian communities in a future of more frequent climate change-induced hurricanes.”
Mr Lewis, meanwhile, said the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) is working on developing 55 lots in Central Pines for single and multi-family use. He said: “We are in the process of having properties from the Ministry of the Environment and Housing transferred to the DRA. It is hoped that these units will provide much need rentals and housing for people on the islands, and those seeking to return.
“Additionally, the DRA is working on the development of two 60-acre tracts, one in Wilson City and one in Marsh Harbour. The surveyor-general has confirmed the preliminary survey is completed. The final plans are being properly documented so the information can be included in an RFP we plan to issue by the middle of April. We hope work will begin on this initiative in the third quarter of this year.”