Dong Yongyu was happy. Her family and friends had just finished placing a cross-beam in the roof of her new house. With only the roof and interior decoration to go, Ms Dong, 40, hopes that she and her family would be able to move in within a month. 'We lost everything all of a sudden, and today it looks like the day I will start to get everything back,' Ms Dong said. Her family pooled together about 70,000 yuan to build a new house on the site where her old home previously stood. They borrowed the entire amount from relatives and friends, even though the government had promised to help cover half the cost in the form of a low-interest loan. 'The government promised [to loan us the money], but we would have had to wait until after the Lunar New Year. But three of us would have to go to work by then,' Ms Dong said. If everything goes according to plan, Ms Dong's family will get the government loan after the festival. That would enable them to repay the money borrowed from friends in two years. However, Hongbai town deputy party secretary Cheng Yangxu thought Ms Dong was too optimistic. 'Yes, the policy is there, but it's always an issue about when you can actually get the loan,' Ms Cheng said. Many residents had applied for low-interest loans to rebuild their homes, but only a few have received the money. Ms Cheng said the central government had made it clear that commercial banks should give loans to people to rebuild their homes, but most banks had only paid lip service to the policy. Villagers often came to the town's government offices to complain, but all Ms Cheng could do was tell them to wait. 'Banks are not charities. They look into people's records closely. When they feel someone has no way of paying the money back, they simply put the application on hold,' she said, adding that it was hard to convince people to be patient especially after the TV news carried a report that the central government had ordered banks to offer loans to people to rebuild their houses. 'The central government's policy is good, but the city, town and village governments have twisted it,' said 40-year-old Fang Quancai , who visited the town's government offices last week to press for a loan. Mr Fang said his six-member family was eligible for a 25,000 yuan government loan. Ou Qihui , deputy director of Hongbai town's administrative office, said he had to repeatedly explain the difference between policies and reality every time the loan issue was raised. 'I understand they want their new houses bigger and better, but you have to work with what you have got. Applicants for loans for smaller and low-budget houses tend to get the money. Those who want loans for bigger houses only scare banks away. It's as simple as that,' Mr Ou said. The town's residents say all that they want is a permanent place to live. Fifty-five-year-old Li Yuqin used to live in a three-storey building but now she was ready to settle for a much smaller home. 'A low-rent apartment should probably do for us,' said Ms Li, whose son-in-law died in the earthquake. She now lives with her daughter and granddaughter in a temporary house. The town plans to build 2,299 houses this year. By Friday, about 30 per cent of those houses had been built. After the disaster, the central government paired a number of quake-damaged cities and towns with others in rich coastal provinces and municipalities. The rich cities were asked to provide resources and talent to help rebuild Sichuan. Hongbai, which is part of Shifang county, was paired with the Beijing city municipality. But because of Beijing city government's pre-occupation with the 2008 Olympics, the rebuilding effort in Hongbai has not been as fast as in cities or towns paired with places like Shanghai. Ms Cheng said she had no complaint because the Olympics was a matter of national pride. But not everyone was as understanding. Residents criticised local officials for the slow start to the rebuilding, the lack of loans or the insufficient supply of building material. 'Nobody seems to understand that there is only so much we can do. At least they could shout at us. We have nobody to shout at,' Ms Cheng said. Mr Ou said the pent-up frustration among township officials had reached a boiling point. 'No holiday, no break and no pay increase. We are the typical 'three nos' people. But look at what we have - nothing but frustration and bad health.' He joked that he was just one thought away from committing suicide. 'Except I'm too busy at work to find time to kill myself,' he said.