SOCIAL Services Minister Frankie Campbell.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
SOCIAL Services Minister Frankie Campbell said yesterday his ministry will respond to all applicants seeking rental assistance.
He said officials are now in the process of looking at all assistance requests to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some people have complained about not yet receiving approval from the ministry despite applying for rent assistance weeks ago.
Some applicants have even accused staff at the department of poor customer service.
In response to the claims, the minister replied yesterday: “Let it be known here that the position of the minister and the management staff is that everyone ought to be treated with respect and that our social workers and supporting staff ought not to be judgmental or harsh in their treatments of clients.”
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced in April a rental assistance initiative that was based on deferrals and applied only to residential rentals.
He said people who qualified for the programme would be able to postpone up to 40 percent of their rent payment for the next three months, beginning in April.
However, some Bahamians have still been evicted from their homes since Dr Minnis’ announcement, calling for government intervention on the matter.
Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has already told reporters the government does not plan to intervene in and settle disputes between landlords and tenants.
Yesterday, Mr Campbell acknowledged the challenges associated with the government’s initial plans for rental assistance.
“I can say that part of the difficulty if you recall initially is the prime minister had indicated with the lending agencies to defer mortgage payments and it was hoped that that deferral would translate to deferral of rent payments of tenants,” he said.
“We began to realise that that wasn’t working out and we reviewed our ability and resources and as a result, I can say that we are now processing rental assistance. Some persons have already received their rental assistance and I want to assure those who have been waiting that they also will be responded to.”
Mr Campbell could not say how many people have applied to the Department of Social Services for rental assistance.