By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
More than a year after the onslaught of the September 2017 hurricanes, nearly twenty individuals will be spending another Christmas at emergency shelters in Long Trench on Tortola and in North Sound on Virgin Gorda.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development, Petrona Davies, told BVI News on Thursday that there are six persons still residing at the North Sound Community Centre and 13 at the Long Trench Community Centre.
She said at least three persons from the Long Trench Community Centre are expected to relocate by the end of this month.
“The persons remaining do not own homes,” Davies explained while appealing to landlords who have vacant properties for rent to contact the Social Development Department.
“We will continue to provide support and assistance to enable them to transition to permanent housing as soon as suitable accommodations can be identified,” she added.
Government continues to help
Davies, in the meantime, said local government continues to provide assistance to homeowners via grants and loans. However, she was unable to provide statistics on the number of persons who have been able to benefit from those loans and grants so far.
The Permanent Secretary said the numbers are ‘increasing daily’ and that Social Development Minister, Marlon Penn, will provide an update soon.
A statement issued by the ministry in November 2017 said emergency shelters would have formally closed at the end of that month.
The ministry said persons who were still residing at the shelters would undergo an assessment with a view of identifying appropriate housing solutions. The ministry further said at the time that homeowners would be provided with assistance and social support to help them transition back into their homes. Others who required alternative accommodations would be assisted based on their needs.
At the time, the ministry said it had prepared a detailed ‘Housing Recovery Policy Plan’ for affected individuals. The plan’s objective was to ensure and maintain the health, safety, and dignity of disaster-affected individuals and households.
Close to 300 persons across the territory were forced into shelters following the devastating 2017 hurricanes.
Over time, the number of shelter residents dwindled as people returned to their homes, left the territory, or took up residence with family or friends.
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