Eighty-three-year-old Decima Smith could only express gratitude as she received the keys to her new home — the first to be built under government’s Housing Recovery Assistance Programme.
The modest structure is perched in front of what remains of Smith’s old Lower Estate family home that was reduced to ruins after the onslaught of Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
“All who help me, I so thankful for it because I had a home, a big one, and it get destroyed,” Smith said at the handover ceremony of the one bedroom, one bathroom house on Thursday.
Social Development Minister Marlon Penn said the home was a sign of the ‘rejuvenation’ that was taking place in the territory.
“This symbolic passing over of the key is one of many that will happen in the next couple of months and weeks to come,” said Penn, who commended former Health Minister, Ronnie Skelton, for kicking off the housing programme.
“[He] was very much the catalyst behind us to get this process moving … I’m the heritance of some of his hard work,” Penn said.
Other homes approved
Approximately 90 homes have already been approved for construction under the housing programme.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr D Orlando Smith, released some $15 million for the housing assistance initiative which has various layers such as the loan programme and grant programme for affected and vulnerable homeowners who were either underinsured or had no insurance on their hurricane-affected properties before the September 2017 disasters.
“I know that many people have benefited in various ways, not just complete homes but also putting roofs on, or [replacing] various other parts of their homes. I’m sure that the programme will continue because there is still, as I understand from the good Minister [of Health], lots and lots of people who are still in need,” said Premier Smith while giving remarks at the ceremony.
Other officials who were present at the ceremony were former Health Minister Skelton, and the Representative of the Fourth District where Lower Estate is located, Mark Vanterpool.
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