|Minister of Housing and Lands, Michael Lashley (FP)|
Despite the current economic downturn, small contractors can rest assured that their businesses will still be utilised under the National Housing Corporation’s Housing Every Last Person (HELP) Programme.
Speaking today during a tour of the "Starter Homes" at Lancaster Phase 1 in St. James, Minister of Housing and Lands, Michael Lashley, revealed that in 2008 his ministry had pledged to employ small contractors.?? Stating their services were used at Marchfield, in St. Philip and at French Village, St. Peter, the Housing Minister noted that they (the Ministry) constantly engage small contractors through a joint venture programme.
He explained that they renegotiated with First Caribbean Bank through a $40 million loan which was guaranteed by Parliament last year and about six to seven sites have been identified for use by small contractors.
"Funds from the loan would be used on those particular sites.?? It is also evident that at Lancaster 1, we have five small contractors on site who are currently building 42 homes," the Minister explained.
While lauding the contractors for moving at "such a swift pace", Mr. Lashley pointed out that work at Lancaster Phase 1 which started in June last year was soon near completion.
The Housing Minister, who was accompanied on the tour by senior management of the NHC, disclosed that the land which was inclusive of the cost ranged from 476sq. ft., 569 and 644sq.ft. with prices starting from $92,090.00 to $124,335.00.
"We are trying to meet the market of those persons who cannot purchase a house over $150, 000 by creating an avenue for those individuals who can purchase house and land from $92,000 at Lancaster 1," he said.
In addition, Minister Lashley also indicated that despite the recession the demand for housing was still "great" as Barbadians were still vying "for a piece of the rock."?? He further said that there was a second phase – Lancaster 2, which has two contractors on site, and that he was "pleased" that the programme was starting to roll-over at this critical stage.??
"We are in an economic recession and we have to generate economic activity.?? And what government is doing is stimulating the economy – we have truckers, carpenters, painters, tillers etc… all benefitting from this project and this is really a plus to the government in terms of assisting small businesses," he stated.