Some of thoe houses at Marchfield, Six Roads, St Philip (A.Miller/BGIS)

If a man’s house is his castle, then some 17 new homeowners at Marchfield, St. Philip, will next week feel like royalty, when they are officially presented with the keys to their properties.

Prime Minister David Thompson and Minister of Housing and Lands, Michael Lashley, will do the honours during an official ceremony, next Sunday, March 7, at the development site at the St. Philip Town Centre.

Sunday’s handing over will bring the number of homes, completed, or in train, under the National Housing Corporation’s (NHC) Housing Every Last Person (HELP) programme to 259.

To date, the Corporation has constructed, or is in the process of constructing, 44 houses at Workhall and eight at River Crescent, in St. Philip; 51 at Greens and 65 at Constant, both in St George; 44 at Four Hill, St Peter; 17 at French Village, St Peter; and another 30 at Marchfield, St. Philip.

According to Acting General Manager at the NHC, Lanette Napoleon-Young, the River Crescent development will eventually comprise 77 houses.??

"The first area… is strictly Rent-to-Own, but then we will see other types of housing coming to River Crescent once permission is received," she pointed out.

Ms. Napoleon-Young added that the NHC was also at varying planning stages of the projects, with 73 solutions at River Crescent, St Philip; 126 at Parish Land, St. Philip; 41 at Lancaster Phase 1, another 41 at Lancaster Phase 2 and 60 at West Terrace and Durant’s, all in St. James.?? There are also plans afoot to construct 28 houses at Sedge Pond, St. Thomas; 1,100 at Bushy Park, St Philip and 1,050 at Spring Garden, St Lucy.

Recently, Housing Minister, Michael Lashley, asserted that his Ministry and the NHC had "achieved a lot" in a short space of time having provided a number of homes for those Barbadians on the waiting list.??

"We have been able to conceptualise projects in terms of the Rent-to-Own and Infilling Programmes.?? We have also been able to bring on stream the Housing Neighbourhood Upgrading Programme and actually satisfy other permissions in relation to the 20-year programme for the housing units… as well as the 500 Lots Programme. \

"So, that is something we are eagerly looking forward to, because on the waiting list we have persons who need houses and land, those who need land, and those who need rental units.?? We are striving to satisfy those three categories … [and] I feel satisfied, to some extent. There are also other projects that we have planned for this year which we will be unfolding later," he disclosed.

The NHC’s Acting General Manager explained that the objective of the HELP programme was to "provide affordable homes at prices ranging from $99,000 to $150,000 … and sell lots at prices ranging from $17,500 to $35,000."

The Marchfield project, launched in September of 2008, was designed to accelerate the delivery of affordable housing solutions to low income earners. The three-bedroom, one-bathroom houses are some 820 square feet, while the two- bedroom, one-bathroom homes are either 644 or 536 square feet in size and were constructed by two small contractors, CRS Construction Ltd. and Caribbean Construction Ltd.??

The HELP programme caters to and targets persons who earn less than $4,112 per month or $949 per week.?? The lots average 3,500 square feet.

With these programmes well on stream, Government is moving swiftly to tackle the housing problem many Barbadians face.??lbayley@barbados.gov.bb

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