DESPITE being called a "lucky bunch" and being given keys to Homes of Adventure Phase II townhouse units on April 8, 14 "home-owners" are still awaiting financial approval from the Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance.
In a telephone interview last Friday, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles acknowledged that those who were part of the distribution ceremony and told they "would soon be in possession of these houses" were still a long way from home.
He said, “The process is ongoing… TTMF has to reassess all those persons; while they were preselected or preapproved, sometimes people’s situation and circumstances change. So, TTMF is in that process on a one-on-one basis.
“We have to make sure that the persons selected can in fact afford the mortgage, and at the end of the day, once persons have satisfied the borrowing conditions, then they would be allowed to enter…We don’t want it to be a situation where persons get access to the units and then they are unable to pay for it.”
One home-owner previously told Newsday his initial application was over 15 years ago and currently he had other loans to pay.
Many of these homeowners spoke to Newsday on the condition of anonymity and expressed disenchantment.
During the key distribution ceremony, the new recipients all beamed with enthusiasm, posed for pictures and received the keys to their homes. However, their joy was short-lived as they later learnt that the keys handed over were “dummy keys.”
The Division of Settlements, Urban Renewal and Public Utilities, under the THA, is mandated to provide housing units of different designs and costs to suit the needs of low- to middle-income families. 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.
A close source from within the division told Newsday that up until the distribution, the valuation for the houses was yet to be submitted.
“So at the time, no decision was met in terms of how much it would cost and how much exactly will be subsidised by the THA. Persons within the division were saying not to hand out the keys but (name called), in his usual style, insisted as he said, 'The show must go on.'”
The source said the recipients were not apprised of this prior to the distribution ceremony. The source said following the return of keys, the applicants continued their process as they visited the division and signed the sale agreements and contracts, which would then be sent to their respective financial institution and then await mortgage approvals.
“The keys would only be released upon completion of the transaction when the funds are released by TTMF. However, if persons fail to qualify, they would be called in by the division and appraised of the latest situation explaining that they have not qualified for the units. If this happens, the applicant would then be able to get whatever funding they qualify for from TTMF, but they must also show that they are able to pay the balance.”
Contacted on the situation, Secretary of Settlements Clarence Jacob declined to comment.