A former THA housing official is questioning the THA's process for distributing houses, after 14 people received keys to townhouse units at the Homes of Adventure Phase II but were then told to return the keys. On April 8, the homes were presented to the recipients during a ceremony attended by Secretary for Settlement Clarence Jacob and Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles.
One home-owner who spoke with Newsday on the condition of anonymity on Friday said, “The keys were taken back because our mortgages are yet to be completed. We were called in last week to come in and sign the sale agreements and contracts, which would then be sent to the respective financial institutions, who would in turn call us in to come and start the process.”
Questioned whether it was a guarantee they would be approved financially, another home-owner said his situation had changed so much since he initially applied in 2003 that he was not sure.
"The length of time since I was told that that I was successful, so much has happened because I have to live… I even have (other) loans, so I may not be in a position to manage the payments at this time. There is no guarantee that I would be the recipient after all is said and done, as a lot has happened over time – all my affairs may not be in one basket at this time. But I have started signing the agreements, so I guess now it's just to wait and see based upon my selected financial institution and my credit scores at this time,” he said.
A former THA housing official, however, expressed alarm at the situation last Friday.
“Keys are supposed to be given only after the entire process is completed, so giving keys and then taking it back is clearly a no-no,” he said.
He said the Division under the Assembly is mandated to provide housing units of different designs and costs to suit the needs of low to middle income families, adding that through its agencies, it is able to reduce costs by offering subsidised mortgage programmes and other concessionary financing for construction of the housing developments, thereby making it more affordable to purchase.
He said the THA continues to not learn from its mistakes in the past. He said, in 2013, keys were given before the process was completed and recipients who did not qualify for a mortgage kept the keys and were living in the houses. As a result, he said a rental programme had to be introduced to accommodate those people.
“The Rent to Own programme was designed to facilitate those persons who, given their current financial situation, are unable to qualify for mortgage financing and these persons were able to utilise this option as a result,” he said.
Newsday once again attempted to reach Secretary of the Division Clarence Jacob to address the situation but numerous calls to his cellphone went unanswered.