Government has embarked on a number of initiatives to revitalise and bring life back to Bridgetown.
Minister of Housing Lands and Maintenance, Dr. William Duguid, stated this on Tuesday, as he addressed the virtual Ministerial Roundtable under the theme “Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Cities: Leveraging Urban Capacities through Local and National collaboration for the Third Urban Economy Forum”.
Minister Duguid mentioned some of those initiatives. “…Our former Treasury Building, standing in the heart of our capital city will be adapted for residential use. There are other iconic buildings also in the heart of the City that may serve as educational campuses. It is all part of the plan to make our City alive and thriving once more because we truly believe that without a mix of vibrant economic activity and residential activity, cities will die,” he said.
Dr. Duguid disclosed that Government was moving ahead with plans to “press back into productive use” derelict and unused buildings in Bridgetown and the wider Urban Corridor, through joint partnerships with landowners.
“We have already commenced the construction of duplex and quadruplex housing units in and around Bridgetown as part of a goal of maximising the use of scarce available land spaces,” he stated.
The Minister also spoke of the impact of two weather systems on the housing stock. “Barbados, like the rest of the world, is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because we are now recovering from two storm events within the space of two weeks of each other. These kinds of weather events are not typical for us. More than 2,000 reports of damage to our housing stock were received and it has been determined that more than 500 houses have to be completely rebuilt.
“From our assessments, many persons affected are not financially able to rebuild or repair their structures and therefore will have to be assisted by government. In doing so, we are very cognisant of Goal Eleven of the Sustainable Development Goals, which refers to making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable,” he noted.
Minister Duguid also highlighted the joint project between Government and the private sector. “HOPE – is an acronym for Home Ownership Providing Energy. It is driven by a 100% Government owned company called HOPE Inc. This housing venture seeks to provide affordable high-quality two and three bedroom houses for first-time homeowners earning a net maximum salary of US $2,000 per month. The monthly mortgage repayment costs will be between approximately US$400 and $500.”
He said under this new arrangement, the houses would be built by private developers on lands owned by the Government. The land would be provided to the prospective homeowners at no direct cost to them, and they would only have to pay for house construction.
Dr. Duguid added that the cost of the land would be recovered through income streams generated by photovoltaic systems, which would be installed on the roofs.