Government Making Headway With H.E.L.P Programme

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Minister of Housing and Lands, Michael Lashley, takes a look at plans for the Fordes Road site during??a recent??tour with Acting General Manager of the National Housing Corporation, Lanette Napoleon young and Acting Deputy General Manager, Garvey Alleyne.

To date, the National Housing Corporation (NHC) has successfully housed 182 families, and will, in the next coming years complete some 3,000 more.

This assurance was given from Minister of Housing and Lands, Michael Lashley, who, at the recent launch of the Villages at Coverely in Christ Church, praised his team at the Ministry and the NHC. He, however, advised that this was just the beginning of the journey as the Housing Every Last Person (H.E.L.P) programme continues to tackle the considerable waiting list of 30,352 applicants.??

"I want to congratulate the National Housing Corporation for the completion of 235 houses at Four Hill, French Village, Greens, Marchfield, Work Hall and Constant…together with the 56 units completed at Country Park Towers and 20 units also completed at Tweedside Road. We have awarded the contracts for the beginning of infrastructure works at Lancaster 1 and Lancaster 2 and Parish Land and River, St. Philip to facilitate the construction of 235 houses by small and medium sized contractors," he said.

Houses at Four Hill, St. Peter.

For those who cannot afford to purchase a house and/or land, Minister Lashley pointed out that the NHC was also constructing 256 rental units at Valerie in Brittons Hill, Deacons and Eckstein Village.??

A new "Starter Homes Policy" will also soon be launched to aid low-income earners. "We are about to introduce to Cabinet and the Social Policy Committee, this concept where the cost of the house will be between $70,000 and $100,000.??

The main objective of the Starter Homes Policy is to give low-income earners who work for less than $3000 monthly, an opportunity to purchase a house and lands, with the expectation that improvements will be made to these properties over time, based on the financial circumstances of purchasers," he explained.

A block of rental units at Stuarts Lodge, Tweedside Road, the City.

Construction is ongoing at Constant in St. George where 64 two-bedroom homes are being built.?? At Stuarts Lodge in Tweedside Road, traditional block work is being utilised by ADC Building and Maintenance Limited to erect 20, two-bedroom units and the four towers at the Country Road/Bank Hall junction are at an advanced stage and will be handed over soon, providing 56 rental units, consisting of 48-two bedrooms and eight-three-bedroom homes.?? ??

The Ministry and the NHC are also actively working on its infilling programme, which, so far has provided units at Sayes Court in Christ Church.?? NHC employees have also started construction on 20 units at Fordes Road, St. Michael.

The Rent-to-Own programme, launched in May last year, with 16 duplex units at Airlie Heights in St. Michael will also be employed at River Crescent in St Philip, where 69 houses are being constructed. Mr. Lashley explained that he was also keen to see this initiative utilised in other areas including Lancaster Phase 1 in St. James, as well as Parish Land in St. Philip.

Rent-to-Own gives persons who earn less than $2600 per month an opportunity to become home owners and payments are calculated in such a way that when a portion is paid, it goes towards the eventual purchase of the unit.

The NHC and the Ministry are also in the planning stages to construct two; six-storey high rises at Valerie in Brittons Hill and on Crown Land near Country Park Towers.

Surveying and other infrastructural works are also under way to launch the island-wide 500 lots programme, where lots will be sold at $5 per square foot.??

"With the aggressive housing programme of this Government, the dream of owning a piece of this rock for Barbadians from all walks of life now seems like a reality… We will continue to work together to see the successful implementation of other Government housing programmes. This is certainly not the time for talk, promises and concepts… It is time for action," the Housing Minister asserted.

Mr. Lashley, however, cautioned that Government could not meet the large demand for housing, unaided by the private sector. He described the recently unveiled Coverely initiative as a "model" public and private sector partnership project. The NHC provided the land for the development, and the developers, Housing Concepts, financed the infrastructural works and construction of the houses.

"I am, therefore, pleased with the progress thus far which has emanated from the relationship at this development.?? We all know the history that has prevailed with so-called joint venture programmes… It is against this background that the Cabinet of Barbados in May 2009 established a new set of guidelines with respect to joint partnerships with the private sector relating to housing projects. Checks and balances were put in place to ensure that the state, and the prospective house owner and developers interests are protected," the Housing Minister underscored.

The community, which will eventually include 1026 homes, is divided into 17 villa neighbourhoods and includes a state-of-the-art waste water reclamation facility.??

The Villages is being constructed utilising a modified zero lot line design concept and is employing concrete slabs constructed in a factory and transported to the site for erection. ????All services have been run underground, with storm drainage in place.??

Other projects due to start this financial year include Lancaster Phases 1 & 2 in St. James, Parish Land , St. Philip, River Crescent, St. Philip, West Terrace/Durants, St. James and Vauxhall, Christ Church, providing 363 houses.

The H.E.L.P programme caters specifically to the 7,593 applicants (24.9 % of the total database) who applied for a house or land and who earn between $2,500 and?? $4,116 ??per month, or a weekly wage of $926 or less.??

According to an official of the Customer Service Department of the NHC, this wage category includes, but is not limited to, clerical officers, administrative officers, police constables, station sergeants, teachers, nurses, customs officers and other related ranks.??lbayley@barbados.gov.bb??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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