The small home repairs of some 2,500 homes in the Northern Bahamas is scheduled to begin shortly said Deputy Director of Urban Renewal, Senator the Hon. Kirkland Russell, during a press briefing on Thursday, April 21, 2022.
According to Senator Russell, Urban Renewal Revitalization will enhance several areas to improve the lives and bring relief to residents of the Northern Bahamas. The Minister with responsibility for Urban Renewal, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe, has placed a mandate on Urban Renewal which is “To increase the happiness index of the residents throughout the length and breadth of the Northern Bahamas and indeed the entire Bahamas through the Urban Renewal programs.”
Also present for the briefing were Kyle Stuart, senior coordinator for Small Home Repairs and Logistics; Lloyd Grant, senior coordinator and Bishop Daron Sturrup, representing the religious community.
Core programs to bring relief and improvement have been developed: One of them is the small home repair program. In Grand Bahama and Abaco in particular, said Senator Russell, when the team at Urban Renewal did their walkabouts, they discovered thousands of residents whose living conditions are still compromised.
“Some may have received assistance from various NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations) and the like, but there are still in homes with leaky roofs and homes that are still compromised on the inside.”
The Deputy Director pointed to stacks of files on the table stating they are only hundreds of the files of applicants, and there were hundreds more he said, in another room.
There are more in Abaco and Bimini who have also submitted applications. “We intend to launch a program to repair at least 2,500 homes and the program will employ at its maximum about 800 Bahamians. And so this initiative is the first of its kind when you talk about the size of it.”
The program is scheduled to begin in a matter of weeks, he said, if not days. Another program launched is the Beautification and Street Maintenance Program. The Senator said, “we intend to beautify especially areas outside the city of Freeport. We want those areas to be just as refined, just as beautiful, and well- kept as any area throughout The Bahamas. We believe that if we do what we ought to do, not just clean up, but beautifying and causing this to be a sustainable program, we believe this will provoke and stimulate economic growth in these areas.”
An educational program where a GED is offered is another initiative being launched by Urban Renewal. Too often, he said, young people are leaving school without a degree and “as leaders of this country, we cannot be satisfied with this.”
Implementing sporting programs such as tennis, golf, swimming, basketball, track and field and baseball, is another initiative being introduced. There is no reason why all young people should not be exposed to these disciplines, he said, and he made an appeal to Corporate Bahamas to enter a Public Private Partnership to meet this need.
“We want to use sports to stimulate our kids to focus more on education. We want to make them understand that if you get a good education, these sports can help you go further.”
Programs will also be launched for persons with disabilities, as well as religious communities as a “wholistic approach” is being taken.
All Urban Renewal Centers will be opened and functioning by the end of next week in Grand Bahama, Abaco and Bimini.
“Urban Renewal for us is simply renewing urban areas,” he said and also noted that an effort must be made “to provide opportunities to make these young people whole.”