Disaster Recovery

Accelerating Recovery: Vision for Tomorrow Targets 100 New Homes



The Virgin Islands’ journey towards recovery, powered by the EnVision Tomorrow initiative, has reached a pivotal stage as the territory races against time to rehabilitate homes devastated by hurricanes. Adrienne Williams-Octalien, Director of the Office of Disaster Recovery (ODR), provided a comprehensive update to the Committee on Housing, Transportation, and Telecommunications, shedding light on the program’s current status and its ambitious future goals.

Despite challenges, with only 30 homes completed over seven years, Williams-Octalien remains undeterred, emphasizing the critical role of affordable housing development in the territory’s recovery. The program currently has 9 homes under construction and 227 homes undergoing preparation for rehabilitation. The slow progress has prompted an in-depth 90-day review by the ODR to identify and address the myriad obstacles hindering advancement.

The rise in construction costs, environmental review delays, and the challenge of retaining qualified contractors have been significant barriers. However, ODR’s commitment to overcoming these hurdles is evident in their proactive approach, including improving decision timelines and enhancing communication with homeowners.

In response to queries from Mr. Bolques about the steps being taken to expedite project completion, Williams-Octalien highlighted ODR’s strategy, focusing on training and education for both their team and contractors to ensure efficient project management and timely payments.

Senate President Novelle Francis underscored the urgency of the situation, describing the state of public housing as “dismal” and stressing the need for timely action. In response, ODR has launched “Mission 100,” an ambitious initiative aiming to have 100 homes in construction by summer 2024, demonstrating a forward-looking and solution-oriented approach to address past delays.

Senator Dwayne DeGraff expressed skepticism about the feasibility of Mission 100, prompting Williams-Octalien to acknowledge the challenge but reiterate her team’s commitment to pushing boundaries and focusing on future success. Meanwhile, Senator Ray Fonseca highlighted the importance of addressing payment delays to contractors, a crucial step in ensuring the program’s acceleration.

With a goal to rehabilitate at least 450 homes across the territory by the end of 2025, ODR’s Vision for Tomorrow represents a beacon of hope and resilience, marking a significant step forward in the Virgin Islands’ recovery efforts.

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