By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
SOCIAL Services Minister Frankie Campbell says 1,000 rental assistance applicants will be given $1,200 to help them with paying rent this month.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event in observance of International Men’s Day, Mr Campbell said the assistance is only given once a year. However, he admitted the policy may need to be reviewed based on the situation the country finds itself in moving forward due to COVID-19.
“Rental assistance, as I would’ve indicated in the first instance, was meant to be an agreement between the landlord and the tenant based on the fact that the government had advanced an argument to the lenders and had gotten a stay of mortgage payments for a period,” said Mr Campbell.
“We realise that didn’t work out and so we have been processing rental assistance. we are processing rental assistance. The pandemic forced us to speed up our efforts towards digitisation and so we’re seizing the opportunity, while there are a number of requests from persons for assistance to see how we could incorporate and speed up the digitisation platform. So, we are giving rental assistance.”
This is monetary assistance, he said, adding: “I’m advised this month that we are going to be assisting almost 1,000 persons.
“Now there is a backlog, I acknowledge that, but we are working on it and I promise that we are nearing the official launch of our digital platform. which will speed up the process.
“We are giving approximately $1,200 per applicant.”
In April Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced details of his rental assistance programme revealing at the time that an initiative that will be based on deferrals and will apply only to residential rentals.
He said people who qualify for the programme will be able to postpone up to 40 percent of their rent payment for the next three months, beginning this month.
He said at the time that there should be “no evictions between now and the end of June unless the tenant had been legally eligible for eviction before April,” adding that at the end of the three-month period, people will have 12 months to pay back the deferred amount.
“This means for example, that if an individual’s rent is $800 per month, they will be required to pay $480 per month over the next three months,” he said. “The remainder will be deferred or postponed.”
However, in May Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said the government does not plan to intervene in and settle disputes between landlords and tenants who qualify for the COVID-19 rental assistance programme.