Over 800 households have been selected to benefit from the first batch of financial help under the Government’s Household Assistance Program.
While noting that the payout could be as early as this Friday, BVI Red Cross Director Helene Frett said of the 1776 households that have so far registered for the program, 855 of them have been approved for assistance.
The BVI Red Cross has been assigned to lead the registration process along with the Social Development Department.
“We are targeting 1,000 households and so far 855 were approved. The payments will be done in the next few days, it will be between $800-1200 a month for three months,” Frett said.
She said that family size will be the deciding factor on how much is distributed per household.
“If it’s just one person, it’s $800 and if its three to four then it’s a $1,000, and if it’s five and over its $1,200. We are hoping that by Friday it should be in the bank,” she added.
The Red Cross Director remarked that the program is a good one.
“I think it is a very good program because it is going to add value to the lives of the beneficiaries. It will give them some breathing space as they recover from the disaster. Some persons are unemployed and some persons are low income so it’s going to help them to get ahead over the next three months to be able to pay a bill somewhere or even purchase needed items,” she noted.
“And it’s going to help to build the economy as well because we are expecting that most of these funds will be spent in the territory.”
She made it clear that families will be able to spend the money whichever way they see it fit.
“They will be able to use it unconditionally, we are not specifying how it is to be spent.”
In the meantime, she said the biggest hurdle thus far is to get bank details from persons who have been selected for assistance.
“We sent out WhatsApp, texts, we made phone calls, but because of the telephone service, we couldn’t reach a lot of people who were eligible. We are still trying to reach a few people,” she pointed out.
According to Frett, the $2.5 million, Government implemented program welcomes other partners to come on board to assist financially. Currently, the partners are the BVI Red Cross, the Department of International Development, Caritas Antilles and Adventist Development and Relief Agency ADRA.
Frett, in addition, informed that the BVI Red Cross’s Emergency Food Bank is still operational between the hours of 9-12 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Persons can walk in and get up to six food items and two non-food items including clothes.
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