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Temporary houses will soon be gone

Government will soon be dismantling its pre-manufactured houses in the west end after accommodating ten needy families for more than four years.National Security Minister David Burch yesterday said the two units at Beacon Hill in Somerset were already being dismantled, while the eight units at Morgan’s Point will follow shortly.So far, seven families have found new homes and the remaining three families will be rehoused shortly, said the Senate leader.Speaking in Senate Chambers, he said the houses, which were officially unveiled in May 2006, were only supposed to last for 30 months.But in January 2009, the Bermuda Housing Corporation assessed the units and confirmed they could be sustained for another two years.The units were a last measure to ease the shortage of affordable housing on the Island and were each worth between $20,000 to $37,000, according to information released in 2005.The ten families that were chosen took part in mandatory Life Skills Instruction, Educational and Vocational Assessments and money management intervention.They were also given a structured debt management plan allowing them to lower the outstanding debt which prevented them from owning or maintaining their own home.Sen Burch said: “Over the past four and a half years most clients have grasped the purpose of the programme and taken advantage of the services provided to them and are today in a better financial position than when they began.“We have seen an improvement in employment stability resulting in an improved management of finances. Records indicate an overall 38 percent reduction in client debts. (Debt clearance also includes paying off bad debt with the Bermuda Housing Corporation).“Clients learn ownership of the debts they have incurred and are given the tools to avoid repeating the same mistakes.”A few people were unsuccessful in some of these areas, he said, adding: “They have been challenged with instability and dysfunction, reflected in unstable employment and in some cases increased debt.“Since inception in 2006 three clients have been terminated from the Residential Programme due to non compliance, five families have graduated and two others will be ready to transition within the next six to eight months.”The housing units were part of a Cross Ministry Initiative Team (CMIT) project including help from the Ministries of Housing, Health and Family Services and Department of Child and Family Services and the Bermuda Housing Corporation.They were three bedroom, two bathroom units and each was equipped with a full kitchen and connected to water and utilities.Many of the home users had significant debt and could not properly manage money or keep a job. This meant getting them out of debt was challenging, said Sen Burch.Still the programme helped improve many of their money management skills and increased the client’s ability to sustain permanent housing.In addition, six families had children returned to them after being in the foster care and kinship care placements.