Assistance only for those eligible: Housing Ministry

A recent survey found that Tropical Cyclone Harold destroyed 635 homes and damaged another 2100 across the country, yet only households whose average income is $15,000 or less qualify for subsidized government housing assistance.

According to initial updates from the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) post TC Harold, 571 homes were destroyed and another 1,609 partly damaged in the central, eastern and western divisions alone. In the central division, 94 houses were destroyed and 242 partly damaged; in the eastern division, 244 houses were destroyed and 203 damaged and in the western division 228 houses were reportedly destroyed and 1164 partly damaged.  More than 6,000 people were displaced countrywide as a result.

However, Minister for Housing and Community Development Premila Kumar said the assistance scheme, which will save homeowners costs of rebuilding materials is only for people who qualify.

Under the Rural Hosing Assistance, which was announced by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on Friday, April 24, eligible homeowners are able to save on costs of rebuilding materials via two ways. The first of which allows eligible homeowners to purchase government-procured building materials at one-third of the cost. The other being, that they purchase all materials at affordable rates and have it delivered to their homes free of charge.

“A person has to be 18-years-old and above, the house in which he/she lives in is the only house they have or had and they are earning below $15,000, which is meant to be the average household income,” Kumar said.

“If there are four family members and their total income is $15,000 and below then they qualify for the assistance.”

In addition, the ministry’s carpentry team will assist beneficiaries who cannot secure carpenters to carry out repair and/or reconstruction works at no further cost. They will be assisted with building plans to ensure homes are cyclone-resilient, along with scheduled site inspections.

According to the ministry’s costing scheme, a two-bedroom dwelling costs around $18,000; one third of which amounting to $6,000 will be paid by applicants.

Photo: Courtesy of Fijian Government

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