|HDC owed $100M by tenants |
SEAN DOUGLAS Friday, April 21 2017
THE Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is owed $106 million by over 3,000 tenants, who make up 79 percent of all mortgages issued by the corporation.
This was revealed yesterday during sitting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament chaired by Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe.
Some 3,155 errant clients owe $106 million in arrears to the HDC, corporation managing director Brent Lyons said in reply to a query from Opposition Senator Wade Mark. Lyons said the situation may be due to a misconception that HDC housing units are, “free.” While this situation is, “not entirely encouraging”, Lyons spoke of reaching out to delinquent tenants, saying the HDC is not in the business of evicting defaulters, but it could come to that. “Come talk to us,” he invited defaulters, saying a payment plan might be agreed. HDC acting finance manager Inskip Pollonais, said two debt collection agencies have in the past five months, respectively collected $2.4 million and $3.33 million of arrears owed.
He alluded to, “certain negatives”, arising whereby the HDC does not feel it gets its rightful share of the debt money collected.
Senator Mark asked if something was amiss, but Lyons blamed a “time issue”. He later said the recovery agency’s fee is 15 percent of monies collected.
Lyons noted that the HDC has 180,000 applications for public housing, while 5,600 units are under construction and 1,000 units available for distribution. Earlier, the Housing Ministry’s acting Permanent Secretary Marion Hayes could not say what the country’s overall demand for housing was, adding research on the issue is pending and the ministry’s housing policy is under review.
She said a Canadian firm’s promise of 120,000 units would impact the ministry’s mandate, even as Lyons otherwise noted keen replies to the HDC’s advertisement for public private partnerships.
Minister of Public Administration Maxie Cuffie, asked the policy on persons inhabiting abandoned units, alleging that in a MP’s office, a man was given a unit , with no contract with the HDC.
“Just this week we have completed an exercise and identified 1,000 of those units you speak of.
Half are occupied by folks who would be a combination of illegal occupant and second, third and fourth generation family member.
The other 500 or so are units that are simply abandoned, but there is a ‘live’ account that shows arrears,” Hayes said.
The HDC has discovered that homes of defaulting clients were abandoned and it is formulating a scheme to secure and recover the units, some of which are still under a mortgage. Lyon said the HDC does not condone illegal activity and has used legal action against such.