Purchasing a home could become much more expensive as the prospect of Hurricane Dorian-like storms becomes a growing reality for The Bahamas, CEO and Founder of the Young Marine Explorers (YME) and a founder of the Cat Island Conservation Institute (CICI) Nikita Shiel-Rolle said yesterday.
Shiel-Rolle said young people could stand to lose one of their biggest investments in just 24 hours, and be left with hundreds of thousands in debt to be paid off.
“When someone like myself thinks about buying a home, does that even make sense now to build a home that within 24 hours will be gone?” she asked.
She said The Bahamas has to declare that it is in a climate crisis given the socioeconomic impact stronger storms will have on the country.
Shiel-Rolle contended that if the economic centers and other islands are affected by hurricanes the strength of Dorian, there is a possibility the country might not be able to rebuild, or that some sectors of the population would not be able to afford to rebuild.
“And so the reality right now is why this climate crisis declaration is so important, because we need to set a message for our people that we are in a climate crisis and this is something that we have to take seriously because this is about our lives,” she said.
“The challenge is do we have the financial ability to rebuild? Will The Bahamas become too expensive for the average Bahamian and what does that mean?
“Maybe we have to immigrate, possibly illegally immigrate, to find a better life somewhere else.”
Former president of the Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA) Leonard Sands said The Bahamas will have to take a serious look at what it wants as housing in the future, and contended that the age of single family lots could be over for The Bahamas.
Sands said while there are affordable ways to build against Dorian-like storms, low income families likely still cannot afford housing in general.
However, he said local groups are looking into how to build affordable clusters of housing for families that will not be cost prohibitive.
“As more Bahamians continue to migrate to the central Bahamas… New Providence… the cost of land increases,” he said. “Not every family could afford a home and a lot.”
Leonard contends that the way Bahamians look at living and building has been changed forever by Dorian.