Sep 29, 2022 Letters
It is almost unbelievable, but I am so glad that it is true, that is, “Some 2000 families in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) will benefit from affordable homes, as Government accelerates its turn-key housing project to meet the housing demand in the region.” This news emanated from Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal, who spoke at the “Dream Realised” housing drive recently held at the Uitvlugt Community Centre. Making it even more than just a dream, he added that “Very shortly, we will be signing a MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] with another company that will see the construction of a further 2000 homes being constructed here in Region Three.” What we need to realise is that this ‘housing take-off’ in Guyana is far more than just a mere ‘owning a house.’ It translates into a number of things.
First, it is that any housing development, no matter where, creates new jobs for citizens and provides desired housing options that attract residents even from afar off. The fact is that money starts to trickle into the community well before actual and noticeable construction activities. This is because there are planning professionals, attorneys, engineers, architects and designers, etc., flocking to be a part of the venture. I must point out that the construction of these is on top of the 500 low-income homes to be constructed in the region, for which the MoU was signed between the Ministry and Republic Bank Limited (RBL) in July, for the financing of the two-bedroom units which will cost $5.5 million each. As a matter of fact, as Minister Croal explained, “…the first 125 homes under that project will be constructed at Leonora … (and) Works on that project will commence shortly.” I think the picture is well grasped. But look at this.
As pointed out by the Minister, “If you have 125 houses to be constructed, the minimum one can expect is that you will have at least 625 persons employed on the construction of those houses. And, over the period you will see different skill sets and opportunities for those of you in Region Three, whether labourers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters will be required.” This analysis is consistent with what obtains globally. As we are all well aware, investment in housing is known to have multiplier effect of generating wealth, promoting economy and employment in any city/region. Housing is universally valued by all nations for its capacity, role and importance in promoting the public good and to create a healthy, vibrant and productive society.
Secondly, and I think no one will disagree that a good home provides protection and family focus. Children are less at risk of violence and sexual abuse. They are also less likely to be forced into child labour, married off at a young age or forcibly recruited by armed groups. A home ensures that displaced people have better access to humanitarian aid. It provides a foundation to discipline, education and life’s overall well-being and goals. On further introspection, I can see that housing is the key to reducing intergenerational poverty and increasing economic mobility. Research shows that increasing access to affordable housing is the most cost-effective strategy for reducing childhood poverty and increasing economic mobility in the United States. It is no different elsewhere.
In closing this missive, I point to that fact that this specific phase in the overall housing by Government is most strategic. Why I say this? Well, as the press reported, Region Three is second, as the highest place in demand for housing in the country, with a backlog of approximately 14,000 applications in the Central Housing and Planning Authority’s (CHPA) database. So rightfully, “Since the Government took office in August 2020, it has distributed in excess of 4000 house lots within the region.” In fact, where housing is concerned, the PPP/C, from inception, had a wide range of plans for the housing sector. As detailed in its 2020 manifesto, there were plans to invest in support infrastructure in existing and new housing schemes; reverse VAT on building materials; facilitate affordable financing for home ownership; promote home ownership, particularly among youths and young, professionals through tax and other incentives; and promote partnerships and incentivize private sector involvement in the sector.” “Our Plan for Prosperity 2020-2025”, as promised then, is really on stream.
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