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Allowance a massive relief for homeless families

Vol XXVIII   NO. 350      Sunday      5 March 2006

For the 40,000 families on waiting lists for government housing, there can't possibly be better news than the BD100 monthly windfall promised by the Premier.

While the amount will go a long way towards helping them meet increasing rent and possibly even afford better accommodation, I can't bring myself to imagine the costs the government would have to shoulder to meet this gesture, considering housing projects are coming up at snail's pace and the waiting lists and periods are, if anything, just increasing.

But it is a gesture, which once again reinforces the government's commitment to ensuring a decent dwelling for every Bahraini family, as stipulated in the Constitution.

Because of a lack of lands, haphazard planning, poverty, unemployment and the sad reality that there are so many dilapidated homes - which I will not bring myself to call slums - in many areas of Bahrain, it brings hope to many impoverished families which would otherwise have to continue stomaching appalling living conditions.

It is a remedial measure, which will at least help many families make ends meet and move to better accommodation.

It will be particularly helpful for the swarming families, who live like sardines in one room in an ancient family house that is too shocking, but accepted as reality in many villages and even towns in Bahrain.

BD100 a month will help them rent another shanty dwelling, which they will finally be able to call home, as they continue to wait for their promised home.

I really wouldn't want to be in the shoes of housing officials in Bahrain, for the issue is really a sticky one.

Most lands are privately owned, land prices are escalating at breakneck speed, the harsh arid desert climate is taking its toll on existing homes faster than government homes are actually being built and people are getting more and more frustrated with the long wait for a refuge, which will elevate their status from sardines to people who can at last aspire to dream of a better tomorrow.

For all the pessimists out there, who think that this gesture is another cosmetic fixture to appease the disgruntled, I say that something is surely better than nothing.

It is a laudable move that will enable the poor to breathe a sigh of relief at last.

My only hope is that the government itself deals with paying the deserving citizens their housing allowances in a transparent and systematic manner as soon as possible and not leave it to parliament or the municipal councils to fight over.

*Amira Al Hussaini currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



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