-low income, state employees targeted for apartment buildings, duplexes
As the administration continues to grapple with growing problems in the housing sector, it has been announced that 2017 will see intense focus in targeting low income and state employees.
The monies that are needed to carry out critical works will come from the coffers of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA).
Speaking Monday during his presentation of the 2017 budget, Finance Minister Winston Jordan made it clear that the answers to the housing sector problems will have to be holistic.
There are approximately 25,000 applications on file for house lots, of which almost 18,000 are low income individuals.
According to Jordan, concerns about the low occupancy of many housing developments areas have led to reviews of the mechanisms used to enable home ownership.
“What has been revealed is the lack of a holistic approach in providing quality, affordable housing in safe, well-serviced communities. Many recipients of house lots remain unable to start construction, while others have been allocated lots in areas that are woefully under-developed and without basic infrastructure.”
Still, he said, many more are saddled with poorly constructed turnkey homes.
“The Housing Profile study is in progress and will be the basis for the preparation of the National Housing Policy which is expected to inform the revitalisation of the sector so that it can fulfill its catalytic role within the economy,” he promised.
This year, a total of 1,921 new house lots were allocated to potential home owners – 4,208 land titles were distributed, and 173 squatters were regularised.
Government is currently considering a new model for providing for the housing needs of the thousands of low income individuals is being.
According to Jordan, this is in recognition of the critical links between housing construction, home ownership, consumer spending, revenue generation, and economic growth.
Jordan disclosed that going forward, the mode of providing affordable housing will include a mix of multi-storey apartment buildings, duplexes, and single family homes within sustainable community structures.
“In keeping with our green agenda, structural designs will integrate elements for improved natural lighting and ventilation. While this is ongoing, works will be accelerated to complete the infrastructural development of prioritised housing areas where allottees have indicated their readiness to begin construction.”
CH&PA is expected to use its own funds to undertake this “ambitious programme” in 2017, the Finance Minister said.
The plan is to use initiatives targeting low-income and state employees.
“These initiatives will involve a comprehensive feasibility assessment of existing housing areas, squatting areas and land for future development; the consolidation of planned housing areas; and the upgrading of regularised squatting areas.”
Jordan stressed that given the huge demand for house lots and the limited availability of serviced lots for distribution, the Government intends to pilot a project to construct apartments, condominiums, and wooden houses in existing planned areas, such as Stewartville, Cummings Lodge, Perseverance, and Amelia’s Ward.
“Also, in 2017, the Government has allocated $100 million, under the Hinterland Sustainable Housing Programme, for the construction of 115 subsidised housing units and 45 roof and water catchment system subsidies in Regions 1 and 9.”
On the softer side, Jordan said, the Government, through the CHPA, will strengthen its planning function in this sector by holding national planning forums, formulating development plans, organising community development projects, sensitising the general public on building codes and standards, and building the capacity of small local contractors.
Housing in recent years had been one of the biggest drivers of the economy, positively affecting hardware suppliers, contractors, banks, lawyers, surveyors, insurance companies and a host of supplies and service companies.
Thousands were granted house lots, but many of the schemes have remained incomplete, despite billions spent by the previous administration. Almost half of the house lots allocated have not been occupied.
However, as lands ran out in coastal Demerara area, the sector slowed, with a number of private developers in deep trouble, especially on the East Bank of Demerara.
The administration, in taking office last year, had vowed to do things differently, including creating complete communities when it came to targeting housing.
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