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Tuesday 25 September 2018
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Raymond: Total housing output is a fail

100,000 homes target, less than 12,000 built

Afra Raymond...policy was ripe for review.
Afra Raymond...policy was ripe for review.

A SURVEY by the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry (JCC)’s immediate past president Afra Raymond has found that a target of 100,000 new homes to be built in ten years had failed, and more houses were distributed than were completed.

Raymond, in an e-mail interview, said the aim of his survey was to detail the outputs of the 2002 housing policy, so the period being examined was January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2015.

“This policy was ripe for review. Modern management would require that programmes and policies are reviewed and evaluated so that adjustments can be made. In the case of our 2002 housing policy, the main target was to build 100,000 new homes in a decade. I always thought that was an over-ambitious target, so my question was – how realistic was that target?”

He said the results in the summary showed there were new homes completed 11,788, new homes distributed 13,484, rental homes 22 per cent and number of homes sold 198. Raymond said the fact that 1,696 more new homes distributed than were completed showed “over-ambition was evident.”

“There are very serious implications – the original target of 100,000 new homes in ten years was seemingly unattainable, given the huge amounts of public money allocated to this programme – less than 12,000 new homes completed in 13 years.”

He added: “The total output is a fail.

“Yet another finding is that only 22 per cent of the completed units were allocated for permanent rental. Given that over 90 per cent of the applicants on the HDC waiting list cannot qualify for a mortgage on even the most generous terms, that is a tragic misallocation of public money. The allocated resources have been directed away from the neediest applicants, in violation of housing policy and the HDC (Housing Development Corporation) Act.

“Finally, and no less serious, there is the stunning fact that after all those billions of dollars of public money and all that fanfare, only 198 new homes were actually sold. This speaks to serious gaps in the HDC’s procurement systems for such an issue to arise.”

Asked his recommendations, Raymond said policy review and research must be an integral part of such important public policies.

“The Housing and Urban Development Ministry and the HDC need to ensure that the majority of the housing subsidy is allocated to the neediest applicants on the waiting list. That is an important matter of economic and social justice.”

Raymond said he developed the questions and was able to obtain the information from the HDC over the last four to five years via the Freedom of Information Act.

“I did not have to use attorneys for the output part of the policy review, since there was co-operation from the chiefs there. There was a level of understanding of the value of public policy research and I really appreciate that, since it is missing in other places.”

He said a constant issue was waiting to get the information, “but that was acceptable since it was clear that the HDC chiefs I was dealing with were supporting my work.”

Raymond’s research is available in the Property Matters – Housing Issues series on his website afraraymond.net.

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