PHILIPSBURG—Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (VROMI) Christopher Wever, in his capacity as Acting Minister of Public Health, Social Development & Labour (VSA) recently paid a visit to several homes that are being repaired as part of a pilot private home repair program.
The pilot program has forty (40) candidates, 14 requiring major repairs and 26 needing what contractors have identified as minor repairs. Minister Wever said he is pleased with the work being done for the home owners of the 40 houses was very critical of the conditions many others on the island are still living in post hurricane Irma and highlighted the need for more people to be assisted.
“I am concerned with the miniscule number of home owners being actually helped. The goal must be to restore all homes and assist as many people as possible, but at this rate it will be five years before we can actually see all the homes in the communities on St. Maarten fully restored,” said Wever.
Wever will be meeting with the representatives of the World Bank and the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) to impress upon them that more people must urgently be added to the program for private home repairs. “We simply must do what we can to make this Christmas a Merry Christmas for the many people who have not had a good Christmas with their families since their homes were destroyed by hurricane over two years ago.”
According to Wever, more home repairs mean increased economic development as well and this should not be overlooked. The reality is that many homes are still in disrepair post-Irma and access to the resources that were intended to bring relief is still lagging.
He is concerned that based on the length of time it has taken for the people to receive assistance, many may have given up hope. “It is not easy for government with limited resources to provide the much needed assistance, I am aware of that but we must also realize that as difficult as it is for us to manage with limited resources, there are people out there who do not have any support at all and are suffering.”