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1,400 people on GB and Abaco signed up for home repair program

The Disaster Reconstruction Authority’s Small Home Repair Programme has received more than 1,400 applications from Grand Bahama and Abaco residents whose homes were destroyed or damaged during Hurricane Dorian last September, the authority’s Chairman John Michael Clarke said yesterday.

The program rolled out on Grand Bahama last week, opened an office on Abaco on Monday and Clarke said a New Providence office will also be opening next Monday, on February 24, for the benefit of storm survivors who have had to relocate but still have damaged homes on the affected islands.

“As of Tuesday this week, I am told more than 1,400 persons have signed up online for small home repairs and I see that in Grand Bahama some vouchers have already gone out,” Clarke said during a Rotary Club of West Nassau meeting at Poop Deck Sandyport.

“I want to stress this point though, now that we have the press, I want to stress this point: let persons know that once they get approval, once the authority sends them back an online approval, it is very important that they get the quotes so that vouchers can be and POs (purchase orders) can be generated for them to get the materials and necessary labor to execute the home repairs.”

Under the Small Home Repair Programme, residents whose homes were destroyed will be eligible to receive $10,000 in vouchers. Those with major damage will receive $7,500 in vouchers.

Homeowners whose homes suffered medium damage will be eligible for $5,000 in vouchers and those whose homes sustained only minimal damage will be eligible for $2,500 in vouchers.

The program also stipulates that only homes that were uninsured will be eligible, and that only Bahamian homeowners who can provide proof of residence at August 31, 2019, can qualify for the program.

Funding

The funding is currently coming out of $10 million the government allocated for the program last year, according to Clarke.

“Currently, how we’re operating, we are operating out of a first tranche for our home repairs,” he said.

“The government set aside a particular amount for that particular project…that is the Small Home Repair, and that allocation is $10 million. So that is where our focus is at this time.”

He added, “Out of the recent pledge conference with UNDP, there’s an account that has been established [but] the full trust and trustees have not been appointed.

“We have, in our board meeting, we are doing an outline for our corporate governance and we are beginning to discuss how and who should be appointed trustees.

“There’s a certain framework because that trust fund that we’ve established with UNDP is a joint trust fund [and] they have some guidelines on how that fund should be administered. So we are working with them to finalize the administrative framework for that fund.”

On January 13, the UNDP sponsored a pledging conference at Baha Mar for Hurricane Dorian relief. The government announced it received $1.5 billion in pledges, which included technical assistance, intellectual assistance, concessionary loans, equity, grants and guarantee financing.

Officials have previously said that a breakdown of the pledges would be made public, but that report has yet to be released.

When the conference was announced last year, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the government was “quite urgently” seeking to raise funds “to complement the government’s $10 million already given for home repairs”.

Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness Iram Lewis said last month that all pledges received were to go into the Bahamas National Recovery and Reconstruction Trust Fund, which the ministry later said would be managed by the UNDP.

Clarke said this joint fund with the UNDP has been opened, but is not yet being utilized.

He told reporters he did not have information on the amount of funds in the account yesterday.

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