DRA set to continue housing initiatives; expects to impact “thousands of families”

DRA set to continue housing initiatives; expects to impact “thousands of families”
Katherine Forbes-Smith.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Over $11 million has been spent on the Disaster Reconstruction Authority’s (DRA) Small Home Repair Programme, with 3,735 homeowners having applied and been approved for assistance since the program’s inception last February.

The DRA has announced that it is gearing up to launch another round of housing assistance as it continues to meet the needs of Hurricane Dorian victims through its Small Home Repair Programme (SHRP) and dome housing project.

DRA Managing Director Katherine Smith said that relaunching the two housing projects addresses some of the most pressing needs of the people most impacted by Dorian.

A dome structure being constructed for those impacted by Hurricane Dorian as part of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority’s housing assistance initiative.

“Nearly a year and a half later, the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian continues to adversely impact countless families in our northern islands,” she said.

“We are pleased to announce that homeowners across Abaco and Grand Bahama will once again have access to much-needed assistance through our housing programmes.

“While we have encountered budgetary restraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn that unexpectedly brought activities to a halt, the DRA and the government have remained committed to our people.

“We will continue with our vision to rebuild one community at a time.”

The SHRP provides homeowners with financial assistance ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 depending on the assessed damage to their homes. It is intended to benefit homeowners who successfully apply and meet the basic eligibility criteria, including having Bahamian citizenship; having been living in their residence on August 31, 2019; and having proof of home ownership.

Over 1,000 homeowners have successfully received 100 percent of the assistance they applied for through the programme.

The first group to receive assistance through the relaunch will be the 1,200 homeowners who have previously received partial assistance. Afterwards, the DRA will provide assistance to those who were approved and received purchase orders for repairs but were unable to access vendors before the programme was suspended last September.

“We will do everything in our power to ensure that we help as many people as we can with the resources we have,” said Smith.

Supplementing the repair programme is the temporary dome housing project that was first announced in the weeks following Hurricane Dorian.

With project budgets now available, the DRA expects to aggressively pursue the completion of this initiative as Smith said residents are “constantly asking when their domes will be completed and when additional domes will be constructed”.

“The dome project allows us to provide a solution so that they can have their own living spaces despite their financial challenges,” said Smith.

In total, 209 domes are available, of which 40 are on Grand Bahama and the remainder are on Abaco. Of that number, 34 have been completed in Spring City, Abaco, and 89 shells have been erected, awaiting the completion of their interiors. Six foundations have been completed and 39 domes have not started, however, contractors are now on the ground on both islands to complete the project.

Smith continued: “We are focused on the way forward. There is much work left to be done.

“We have a duty to the people in the disaster zones to see that this work is completed. You can expect to see major updates from the DRA as the work continues.”