The Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority is leading ambitious housing and home repair programmes in Abaco and Grand Bahama designed to assist residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.
The Authority is providing temporary residential domes in Spring City, Abaco; additional domes to disaster zone residents who want one on their property; the development of 55 lots in Central Pines for single and multi-family use, along with two further 60-acre tracts; the Small Home Repair Programme for various levels of home restoration; and, its partnerships with NGOs through which the NGOs provide materials and technical assistance while the Authority pays for labour.
“Providing housing and assisting with home repairs are major points of focus for the Authority,” said Katherine Forbes-Smith, Managing Director of the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority on Sunday, March 8, at a two-hour press event hosted by the Authority at Harry C. Moore Library, University of The Bahamas, marking the six-month period since Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco and Grand Bahama.
Thirty-two domes in Spring City are complete and have been turned over to the Authority.
The Authority is awaiting final utility connections that should be done this week.
After conferring with the Department of Social Services the domes will be turned over to residents of Spring City.
The criteria to occupy the domes are: a person’s home should have been destroyed by the storm; and, priority will be given to the elderly, physically and mentally challenged, single mothers and families with infants and small children.
“We are also in the process of constructing domes on the private properties of those who meet the criteria, four of which are being installed in Little Abaco,” said Forbes-Smith.
“We encourage others with destroyed homes to apply to the Authority for temporary housing assistance.”
The Authority is also working on immediately developing 55 lots in Central Pines for single and multi-family use.
“We are in the process of having properties from the Ministry of the Environment and Housing transferred to the Authority,” said Forbes-Smith.
“It is hoped these units provide much-needed rentals and housing for people already on the island, and those seeking to return.”
Additionally, the Authority is working on the development of two, 60-acre tracts – one in Marsh Harbour and the other in Wilson City. The Surveyor General has confirmed the preliminary survey is complete.
The final plans and topography are being properly documented so the information can be included in an RFP scheduled for issue by the middle of April.
“It is hoped work would begin on this initiative in the third quarter of this year,” said Forbes-Smith.
“It is envisioned that the developments will showcase innovative housing solutions that are sustainable, eco-friendly, energy efficient and meet with our goal of building back better.
“Local and international developers will be invited to provide solutions for the 60-acre tracts.”
The Authority launched its Small Home Repair Programme on February 10.
Residents whose homes were assessed with minimal damage are eligible for $2,500 in purchase orders; those with medium damage are eligible for $5,000 in purchase orders; those with major damage are eligible for $7,500 in purchase orders; and those whose homes were destroyed are eligible for $10,000 in purchase orders.
Purchase order recipients are able to use them for home improvement materials, labour or a combination of both.
There is an online registration for the programme. In-person, sign-up locations have also been established in Grand Bahama, Abaco and New Providence.
To qualify a person needs to be Bahamian; to own the property in question; there must be proof of residence at August 31, 2019; the property would need to have been uninsured; and the property has to be in Grand Bahama or Abaco.
Materials purchased with purchase orders would have to be from approved vendors in The Bahamas.
Since the launch of the Small Home Repair Programme web portal, 3,137 people set up user profiles.
Of those 3,137 profiles, 2,069 homeowners have completed the full registration for assistance.
Of the 2,069 homeowners registered: 804 need structural assessments; 471 need to upload documents; 404 approved have met all the criteria and structural assessments.
The Authority is still waiting on 89 percent of homeowners to bring in their quotes so purchase orders could be issued.
The Authority has also partnered with various NGOs in Dorian-impacted communities to assist with home repairs.
Through the partnerships the Government pays for home repair labour and the NGOs provide supplies and various types of logistical and technical assistance.
A working model of this partnership is with Church by the Sea in Little Abaco. Church by the Sea is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
It is assisting with home repairs across the Little Abaco communities.