Nearly $10 million has been made available to assist homeowners in becoming hurricane ready.
In its May 7 meeting, Cabinet decided to make amendments to an agreement that had been signed between the government and the National Bank of the Virgin Islands for government’s Housing Recovery Assistance Programme.
The amendment will see what Cabinet described as a $7,350,000 ‘reduced allocation of funding’. Cabinet said this sum is to be directly disbursed to beneficiaries, through the bank, to cover existing social housing, among other things.
The sum of $1.7 million will go towards social housing, $5.5 million will go towards general grants, and $500,000 will be earmarked for low-interest loans.
According to Cabinet, those monies will be expended to contractors and suppliers to make “beneficiaries’ homes watertight, together with essential electrical and plumbing installation works”.
Cabinet has also decided to withdraw $500,000 from the bank to be directly managed by the Ministry of Health & Social Development. That sum will go towards administrative costs.
In May last year, the then Dr D Orlando Smith administration had signed an agreement with the same National Bank for a similar programme.
At the time $15 million was withdrawn from the territory’s Reserve Fund to finance the undertaking which saw upwards of 100 beneficiaries.
The total number of houses reported damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Irma stood at 4,240 up to the end of September. That is according to a report presented by the Department of Disaster Management and the National Emergency Operations Centre.
The report further said roughly 22.5 per cent of the territory’s population was displaced when Hurricane Irma hit.
Since taking office, the Fahie administration had the programme reviewed.