With over 7,000 applicants in waiting, Clarence Jacob, Secretary for Settlements, Urban Renewal and Public Utilities, said there was a need to set new targets and meet them to satisfy the needs of clients for an essential service - housing.
Speaking at a recent key distribution ceremony at Blenheim Phase II, Jacob said since he assumed office as Secretary, he made the personal commitment to walk from house to house to get a first-hand view of the quality and standard of living of Tobagonians.
“My walks have been well received, I sincerely thank the families who have opened your homes to me even on impromptu visits. However, I have discovered that there are still too many families who are in dire need of support. It is my desire to ensure that the Division raises the standard of living and the quality of life of those humble but proud families to a state that they deserve,” he said.
Jacob said the Division has embarked on several programmes to improving the quality of the housing stock on the island.
“In the not too distant future, we would be distributing keys to five single family units in Blenheim Housing Estate, which was constructed in this fiscal 2016/ 2017. In Adventure Phase II, prospective homeowners are at different stage of purchasing arrangements, therefore we expect to complete delivery this year as well,” he said.
“I would like to inform the applicants who have entered into arrangements with us for the sale of lands at Courland Development Park and Blenheim Estate Phase II, we are fully aware that you are anticipating a new beginning with land ownership.
“However, due to the budgetary constraints caused by the downturn in the economy, we have to expand the timelines for delivery. I want to assure these applicants that the Division is working assiduously to complete these two projects. The Division is indeed pleased to have entered into the development of Blenheim and Courland, upon completion of which a total of 161 lots will be delivered,” he said.
Jacob also reported that in fiscal 2016/ 2017, the Division distributed grants to the tune of some $13 million with home improvement grants over $4 million, home construction subsidy - $990,000, home improvement subsidies- $620,000, home completion - over $1 million, and to beneficiary-owned lands - over $3 million.
Jacob also announced a new programme to be launched by the Division shortly - “Let’s talk housing” – which he said would “allow the Division to reach out to homeowners, reminding them of their rights and responsibilities.”