All homes which needed to be repaired or rebuilt after the passage of Hurricane Elsa in 2021, will be completed before the start of the 2023 hurricane season.
This promise from Minister of Housing, Lands and Maintenance, Dwight Sutherland, was made during his contribution to the Budget debate in the House of Assembly on Thursday.
Sutherland noted that while the repair and reconstruction of homes affected the rate at which houses in the Home Ownership Providing Energy (HOPE) project were being built, significant progress had been made for Barbadians affected by the storm. Additional workers who were previously part of the National Clean-up Programme have been enlisted to help finish the job, he said.
“We are charged to produce some 1500 housing solutions this year. While we have not reached that 1500 target in our first year, I am proud to report that in a couple weeks, we would reach the 1100 number as a result of the rebuilds [due to] Hurricane Elsa.”
He added: “We have a total of 495 rebuilds left. These will be done before the hurricane season, I want the country to know that. We want to take those workers [National Clean-up Programme] who would have been enrolled at the SJPI, and the Barbados Training Board and Barbados Community College, bring them on board with the skills to help us rebuild these houses.”
The housing minister also reported on the HOPE initiative and noted that one of the income brackets previously announced has been changed slightly.
“The mandate then was for HOPE to build houses for persons in the income bracket $2 000 to $4 000… We have now adjusted that target grouping, for persons earning between $2 500 and $5 500 per month net. HOPE has started work at Vesper Gardens in the constituency of St James Central, and thus far, they have built some 83 homes out of a 152 there.
“All of the other houses have started. Phase two has started and we are confident that in this year 2023/2024, HOPE will build 2 000 houses as part of this silent revolution.”
Meanwhile, the partnership between the National Housing Corporation (NHC) and Guyanese manufacturer Dura Villa to provide around 1 000 homes to Barbadians was also progressing well, with government planning on also introducing photovoltaic (PV) technologies into the offerings in order to bring the prices down for citizens, Sutherland told the Lower House.
“The cost of a [two-bedroom] Dura Villa house, which would usually cost, when we add up all of the direct costs associated with getting the house here, $130,000, will now cost $99,000 as a result of the PV being installed on the roof. A three-bedroom as a result of the total direct costs associated with it [which was] $145,000, will now cost $120,000.” (SB)