Two new homes for seniors built last year
Two new homes were created last year by the Bermuda Housing Trust despite problems created by the Covid-19 pandemic, MPs have been told.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said the BHT launched a renovation and conversion project at the old Navy Home at Ferguson Park in St David’s at the start of the last financial year to add two units to its housing stock.
Colonel Burch said in the House of Assembly last Friday that the new Westcott Cottage was completed in August, despite the pandemic’s arrival last March.
He added: “Two additional homes may not seem earth shattering, especially when there is a consistent waiting list of 50 seniors, but it was an important project for other reasons.
“This project was the fruit of a partnership with the Ministry of Public Works that was designed to serve as the template for future building projects the BHT would like to undertake.
“The Ministry provided much needed services at no cost by making available to the BHT one of its architects from the Bermuda Housing Corporation, Keino Furbert-Jacobs, who supervised the project from inception through tendering – and then the supervision of the project to completion.”
Colonel Burch said that the project was completed inside its budget despite two unexpected change orders because of “what was found at the home during construction”.
He added: “The trustees are aiming to employ the public partnership model that was used for Westcott Cottage as an example of what can be done in the development of another property for seniors.
“This template is also key and, the BHT believes, appealing to donors, who are engaged to assist seniors – important partners all coming together to help advance the quality of life for seniors by the provision of accommodation at the most favourable rates available.”
Colonel Burch said the pandemic had affected the amount of maintenance work that the BHT could carry out over the past year, as the lockdown and social distancing rules had created obstacles.
He added: “Maintenance was therefore limited to emergencies only, or where units became vacant and contractors could go about their work without impacting any resident seniors.
“The BHT fully anticipates that maintenance will resume as Covid-19 restrictions ease – and this should impact the bottom line in the current and subsequent financial years as the BHT attempts to get its maintenance and repairs back on schedule.”
Colonel Burch said that the BHT had maintained its policy of no rent increases for sitting tenants, even though maintenance costs for its almost 200 homes had increased.