Hon Malone made the remarks via a statement on Thursday, December 31, 2020, at the Fifth Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) held at Save the Seed Energy Centre in Duff's Bottom, Tortola.
The programme was initiated to assist persons with home improvements following the havoc of the 2017 hurricanes.
“Under the existing grant a total of 27 home repair projects have been completed, 32 home repair projects are ongoing, 33 home repair projects are currently undergoing the contractor selection process, and two home repairs became ineligible during the process of award.”
He continued: “Mister Speaker, to date, 265 applicants have been approved to receive housing assistance in the forms of grants such as social grants, general grants, rebuild grants and low-interest loans from funding provided by the Government. A total of 201 beneficiaries have been approved for a general grant. Of the 201 beneficiaries, 104 persons have benefited under the initial grant instituted in 2018; whereas a total of 94 persons benefited from the new existing grant in which homes are made watertight through the installation of roofs, windows and exterior doors, together with essential electrical and plumbing works.”
According to Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Carvin Malone (AL), 265 applicants have been approved to receive housing assistance in the forms of grants such as social grants, general grants, rebuild grants and low-interest loans from funding provided by the Government.
The minister further said, 40 beneficiaries would benefit from a social grant to rebuild their primary residence.
He said of the 40 social homes to be built, 11 homes have been completed; two houses are still undergoing construction; seven homes are currently being tendered through the Government’s public tendering process, and the remaining 20 homes are in the process to be completed in 2021.
Eighteen homes are currently in the design phase, while two homes are being considered for approval by the relevant authorities.
Hon Malone added: “Mister Speaker, 20 beneficiaries would benefit from a rebuild grant to reconstruct their primary residence. To date, one beneficiary has received their mobilisation to commence works on their home reconstruction. The remaining 19 beneficiaries are in the process of providing the relevant documentation to be issued their mobilisation to commence reconstruction of their homes.”
As for the low-interest loan component of the programme, Honourable Malone indicated that it had its challenges such as beneficiaries recommended for loans refusing to accept the loans or failing to complete the process for the loans to be issued.
“Of the six persons recommended for low-interest loans administered by the National Bank of the Virgin Islands, only four persons completed the process. To date, two loans have been processed, and two remains pending. The others were unable to complete the process to acquire the low-interest loans. More so, applicants are not interested in the low-interest loans. Mister Speaker, a balance of $210,000 has been committed to date and only $80,000 issued,” he stated.
Hurricane Irma had damaged many homes in the Virgin Islands in September 2017, some of which are yet to be repaired.
Honourable Malone further reported that the Material Grant, which was introduced in November 2019 in an effort to assist homeowners who are able to meet their own labour costs but require some assistance in purchasing much-needed building supplies, has seen 261 persons benefitting.
He said the sum of $1,423,277.60 has been spent under the programme.
Furthermore, Hon Malone pledged to distribute funds for 28 grants for the purchase of hurricane shutters and another 40 grants for the purchase of appliances destroyed during the storms.
“Mister Speaker, our Partial Reimbursement Grant would also be considered in the New Year 2021, and three applications have been received for consideration and approval as funding in this regard has been rather limited,” he added.
Some 632 applications were received under the Housing Recovery Programme since its inception in 2018.
Homeowners were able to benefit from up to $100,000 from the Housing Recovery General Grant.
The Housing Recovery Social Grant (for the construction of Social homes) was based on accepted evaluated tender price; while homeowners were able to benefit from low-interest loans – up to $100,000.00, Re-Build Grant – up to $150,000.00, Material Grant - up to $9,500.00, Hurricane Shutters Grant – up to $10,000.00, Appliance Grant - up to $1,500.00; and Partial Reimbursement – up to $15,000.00.
Some 36 local contractors have been contracted for these projects.
The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.