Treasure Cay residents were updated Friday night on the Government’s soon-to-be launched Small Home Repair Programme, through which homeowners could receive up to $10,000 in vouchers toward home repair. The town hall meeting, which took place at Full Gospel Assembly, was organized by the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority and the area Local Government.
The Small Home Repair Programme launches on February 10. There will be four categories for which vouchers will be granted. Residents whose homes were assessed with minimal damage will be eligible for $2,500 in vouchers; those with medium damage will be eligible for $5,000 in vouchers; those with major damage will be eligible for $7,500 in vouchers; and those whose homes were destroyed will be eligible for $10,000 in vouchers.
Voucher recipients will be able to use them for home improvement materials, labour or a combination of both. There will be online registration for the programme. There will also be in-person, sign-up locations for those unable to register online. The Grand Bahama in-person registration site will be at the Small Home Repair Programme office at the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Abaco site will be at the administration complex in Marsh Harbour. 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. Under the programme, tradesmen used for repairs would need to be approved. Materials purchased with vouchers would have to be from approved vendors in The Bahamas.
“It is very important for the economy to continue to grow,” said Katherine Forbes- Smith, Managing Director of the Authority. “And so we want to put a program in place where the money stays within the community. We want to support the small businesses. It’s important. Small businesses are employing people. And so it’s very important for us to keep the money as best we can in the country.” The Authority will disburse 50 percent of the voucher first. An inspector will then check and ensure the voucher was spent on the home. Once that is verified the remaining 50 percent would be disbursed.
The Authority has also partnered with various NGOs in Dorian-impacted communities. Through the partnerships the Government pays for home repair labour and the NGOs provide supplies and various types of logistical and technical assistance. Treasure Cay residents expressed concerns regarding the ongoing electricity outage in the area. Hurricane Dorian destroyed much of the Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) infrastructure in central Abaco. Restoration work to the network is underway. BPL has said electricity should be restored to all of Abaco by the end of March. Residents expressed further concerns with the water outage in the area. Mrs. Forbes- Smith pledged to get an update from the Water and Sewerage Corporation on their restoration work. The Authority also met with the business community in Marsh Harbour on Friday, January 31.
Representatives from the Department of Inland Revenue and the Small Business Development Centre were present to inform the business community of the tax concessions and loans and grants available to them. Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco and Grand Bahama in September. With maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, Dorian was the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas. The Authority has hosted a series of town hall meetings in Abaco and Grand Bahama to update residents on the restoration effort and to hear their concerns. These meeting
will continue in communities affected by Hurricane Dorian.