More than 200 online submissions on Small Home Repair Program launch day

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From left, Katherine Forbes-Smith, Managing Director, Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority; the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas; and John-Michael Clarke, Chairman, Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority in Freeport, Grand Bahama on February 10, 2020 at the launch of the Small Home Repair Program. (Office of the Prime Minister)

More than 200 Bahamians made online submissions to the Small Home Repair Program on its launch day in Grand Bahama on Monday. As of 3:45pm on the first day of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority’s Small Home Repair Program there were 451 total users and 201 submissions to the Authority’s website, www.drabahamas.org. Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis pledged the full support of his Government to help residents in the northern disaster zones restore their lives as he launched the program on Monday in Grand Bahama. “We came to Government to help people,” said Dr. Minnis at the Harold DeGregory Building in Freeport.

“This Small Home Repair Program is directed at helping Bahamian people get their homes back to normalcy.” The program allows qualifying Bahamian homeowners to use purchase orders to obtain building materials and other items related to home restoration. There are four categories for which purchase orders will be granted.Residents whose homes were assessed with minimal damage will be eligible for $2,500 in purchase orders; those with medium damage will be eligible for $5,000 in purchase orders; those with major damage will be eligible for $7,500 in purchase orders; and those whose homes were destroyed will be eligible for $10,000 in purchase orders. Purchase order recipients will be able to use them for home improvement materials, labor or a combination of both. “Let me emphasize that we encourage you to register online,” said Dr. Minnis.

“That would prevent you from having to wait on a line. “We put in place the in-person registration process for those unable to register online for whatever reason.” In Grand Bahama in-person registration is at the Office of the Prime Minister; in Abaco at the Government complex; and in New Providence at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at Gladstone Road. The Grand Bahama office opened today; the Abaco office opens February 17; and the New Providence office opens February 24. To qualify a person must be Bahamian; the applicant must 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, Abaco or the Cays. Tradesmen used for repairs would need to be approved under the program. Materials purchased with purchase orders would have to be from approved vendors in The Bahamas. “This is important,” said Dr. Minnis. “We want to keep the money spent on this program in the country. That will help Bahamian businesses.”

The Disaster Reconstruction Authority wants to ensure the money is spent on home repairs. It will initially disburse 50 percent of the purchase orders to qualifying applicants. An inspector will then check and ensure the purchase order was spent on the home. Once that is confirmed the remaining 50 percent would be disbursed. The Disaster Reconstruction Authority has also partnered with various NGOs in
Dorian-impacted communities.

Through the partnerships, the Government pays for labor and the NGOs provide supplies and various types of logistical and technical assistance. Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction the Hon. Iram Lewis noted the need for The Bahamas to focus on resiliency due to climate change. He said there will be a review of our building code. “I have no doubt that by hardening of our already strong code and renewed emphasis on inspections and rules enforcement, we would reduce risk during storms across our archipelago,” said Mr. Lewis. Hurricane Dorian was the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas. It was also the country’s worst natural disaster. It is estimated that Hurricane Dorian caused $3.4 billion in losses and damage.

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