Government terminated the Land for the Landless programme initiated by the previous People’s Partnership administration and is replacing it with a new housing programme to be implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. This new programme is called the Aided Self Help Housing Programme, Housing and Urban Development Minister Randall Mitchell yesterday said in his budget debate presentation.
The difference between the new programme and the last, he said, is that this one is planned all the way to the end and it focuses on the beneficiary. Successful applicants will be guided in the selection of housing designs, pre-approved plans, technical assistance in obtaining regulatory approvals, assisting in providing a pool of pre qualified small contractors, quality control and project management.
With pre approved plans, he said, some successful applicants will be able to build their own homes for as low as $300,000.
The programme will be divided in several phases and it is expected that 1,000 lots will be distributed in the first cycle. Hopefully, 500 house lots will be distributed in a second cycle, he said.
The lots will be offered at 30 percent of the market value to be determined by the Commissioner of Valuations.
There are several criteria that successful applicants must meet including being able to build within two to three years. All citizens will be invited to apply and those who had applied for the Land for the Landless programme could also reapply, he said.
“Notwithstanding the termination (of the Land for the Landless programme), Mitchell said, “Government has recognised the expectations of some 418 selected applicants who were at an advanced stage in the programme. We have contacted all of them with a view to taking them forward.”
He said, though Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar boasted about the Land for the Landless programme being a hallmark for her government, it was simply a residential lots programme. Until the PNM Government assumed office, he said, “not one applicant had received a deed.”