As the territory advances into the height of the hurricane season, more residents are receiving help to rebuild their homes through the government’s Housing Recovery Assistance Programme, according to Deputy Premier Carvin Malone.
The programme — which offers financial assistance via loans and grants to repair hurricane-damaged structures — has received 617 applications and counting, Mr. Malone said July 10 in the House of Assembly.
He did not specify how much total funding has been distributed through the programme, but explained that 213 applicants have received financial assistance in one of four ways based on their needs:
- 186 are approved for a “Housing Recovery General Grant” of up to $100,000 for home repairs;
- 23 are benefitting from a “Housing Recovery Social Grant” for the construction of “social homes” based on an accepted evaluated tender price;
- four have completed the process to obtain a low-interest loan of up to $100,000; and
- 193 have benefitted from a “Material Grant” of up to $7,500.
Mr. Malone didn’t specify how much money has been allocated through the “Housing Recovery General Grants,” but said 104 people benefitted from an initial funding allocation.
Under a newer allocation, he added, 19 home repair projects have been completed, 14 are ongoing, and 49 are undergoing the contractor-selection process.
Mr. Malone, who is the minister of health and social development, said his ministry has directly signed on 24 local contractors to complete the repairs.
“With the additional funding that has been dedicated to construct social homes, it is safe to report that more beneficiaries will receive assistance in the form of a social grant to rebuild their homes,” Mr. Malone said.
Mr. Malone also did not say how much funding has been distributed through the “Housing Recovery Social Grants.”
There is no specific cap for each social home construction project, which must go through a tender process, according to the minister.
Of the 23 “social homes” to be built, 10 are completed, two are undergoing construction, seven are being tendered, two are in the design phase, one is pending approval by relevant authorities, and one is scheduled to start in the next few weeks, he said.
Loans not popular
Mr. Malone noted the relatively low number of completed applications for low-interest loans of up to $100,000: Two loans have been processed and two remain pending, with a total balance of $210,000 committed so far. The minister said other beneficiaries who qualified ultimately refused to accept the loans or otherwise didn’t take the final steps necessary.
“More so, applicants are not interested in the low-interest loans for one reason or the other,” he said.
The newest component of the recovery programme is the “material grants” that were introduced last November to assist homebuilders who can cover their own labour costs but require assistance purchasing building supplies.
Each applicant can receive up to $7,500. Mr. Malone said beneficiaries to date collectively received $1,196,65.
“The material grant component continues to provide an immediate relief to affected households to purchase small quantities of building materials from local suppliers,” he said.
This programme was made possible through additional funding under the remit of the Ministry of Finance and the Premier’s Office, he said.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development will offer suggestions for restructuring home rebuild protocols to residents who didn’t qualify when funding was more limited so they can be reconsidered, Mr. Malone said.