The revolutionized Small Home Repair Programme was officially launched in Grand Bahama today, May 4, 2022 by Minister of State for Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Lisa Rahming.
During the announcement, Minister Rahming said they are describing the program as ‘revolutionized’ as it does not include only roof repairs, which the previous administration had done, but also other facets of the home. Inspections of homes of applicants, said the Minister, showed it was important that some necessary home repairs went beyond the roof.
With Grand Bahama and Abaco having been hit by deadly Hurricane Dorian in 2019, those areas will receive immediate attention, she said. Funds in place are $2.6 million from the previous budget and this will be used until the new budget is in place. Heading the team in the Northern Bahamas are Senator Kirkland Russell, Deputy Director for Urban Renewal/Grand Bahama; Kyle Stuart, project manager; Rashema Delva, building inspector; and Ramadan McKenzie, Inspector.
The team will be on island and are familiar with the issues being faced. Urban Renewal has received 2,500 applicants between Grand Bahama, Abaco and Bimini and the Minister is asking that people are patient as there is a process in place with two tiers:
“We have a subcommittee that sees the applications first and then we have the final committee with the chairman, project manager and all of those people.” As the Minister of State for Urban Renewal, she continued, she is not on any of the committees and has no say in who gets what contract or whose home is repaired.
“I want you to know it’s a fair process and that is why we did the two committees.” Minister Rahming noted that the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) is also conducting home repair projects, but as a more extensive programme: While the cap at Urban Renewal is $10,000 for now, the DRA’s programme is higher.
Also present was Urban Renewal Chairman, Stephen Dean, who said the goal is to have people feel proud of their communities. They should not have to live in a certain area for their homes to look nice, he said, and so if they have repaired the roof and see that other areas need to be enhanced, they may continue working on the home to provide painting, landscaping and fencing. If extensive work has been done, he said, they will erect a sign stating it is another project by Urban Renewal.
Mr. Dean added that they will be employing small contractors who may have been out of work for some time. The qualifications include being Bahamian, having a business license, having a tax compliance certificate and showing proof that they have done work in the past. He said, “We are trying to help the small man as a lot of people are out there hurting.”
Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey, described the day as “wonderful” and said reconstruction and resiliency were prime objectives in the Blueprint for Change. I am happy and the residents of Grand Bahama are relieved to have this program started.
Senator Kirkland Russell said the Ministry has allowed them to go to the residents and assess their needs and “today we are embarking on bringing that compassionate relief.”
He added, “We want to say we are here for you, and we intend to increase the happiness index for residents of the Northern Bahamas.”
From: Bahamas Information Services