THE EDITOR: So the Chinese Gezhouba Group International Engineering Company Ltd (CGGC) partnering with HDC for the construction of 5000 apartment has been cancelled. There will be a monetary fallout from this fiasco. Of concern to me is the terminology “affordable housing.” If I go by Mr Afra Raymond’s accounting, the cost of an apartment unit would have been in the vicinity of $1.1 million. This begs the question ‘affordable’ to whom?
The National Housing Authority (NHA) was established by Housing Act No.3 of 1962 (Chapter 33:01). The aim was to construct and distribute single-family units in large-scale housing development projects for lower and middle-income groups in the country. This was geared towards humble, hardworking citizens. However, over the years it appears that planners have moved away from the policy and currently the concentration is towards person(s) within the salary range of $14,000 plus.
In the last census, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) revealed that 60 per cent of the country’s households have a monthly income below $9,000. The estimated monthly instalment for a $1 million mortgage for 20 years would be $5,000 range. To qualify for such a mortgage an applicant would need to have a monthly income of $18,000 range. Clarity then is needed as to who are middle income earners?
Over the years there have been emerging changes in family forms. As a result of gendered roles single parents constitute 11.39 per cent of the population, the majority being women of single-parent families. According to the National Census Report 2000, the percentage of female-headed households was approximately 30 per cent and had increased to 33 per cent by 2010 (CSO, 2011).
I therefore find it mind-boggling that HDC planners did not take into consideration the increase in such family forms and their monthly income. Increased single-parent householders and two-family householders earn less than the $14,000, so are they not entitled to become home owners? Many of HDC housing projects are over $600,000. Many single-parent householders have been told by TTMF “you are not qualified”
The prices for the Mahogany apartments in Mt Hope and 5,000 projects are over $1 million and cater for a specific group in society. This is all good, but has the government moved away from its original objective, that is providing for low and middle income earners (whatever that means?). Am I wrong in suggesting that HDC is competing with private developers and their planners have omitted the “low and middle income” earners?
With the decline in rentals and greater emphasis on mortgages, what hope do they have of becoming home owners? One of the provision of any government is housing? Currently thousands of citizens are held to ransom by unscrupulous landlords with exorbitant monthly rental fees of $3,500 plus? If they can pay that, surely they can pay a mortgage for an HDC home, (based on price structure).
Additionally where are the homes for low income earners? Many people have been waiting unsuccessfully for an HDC home for over 20 years and have since retired. With limited rentals, the $3,000) monthly-pension is gobbled up by landlords, medicine and bills, which leave them with little or nothing. Having paid taxes all their working lives and contributed to the economy, in their golden years, don’t you think some sort of reprieve is possible? Is it not wise to have rentals in all of the housing developments? Is this a discriminatory practice by HDC?