Over 180,000 people are on the Housing Development Company (HDC) database for public housing.
Housing Minister Edmund Dillon said from 2015 to 2019 over 4,000 units have been distributed. However, as soon as units are distributed, more people sign up for housing so the government must partner with the private sector to help meet the demand.
Dillon made the statement yesterday at the opening of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing 101 Expo and launch of its book, Know How Guide Housing 101, at Hilton Trinidad, St Ann's.
The book was produced to help potential homeowners navigate their way through numerous challenges, as well as various programmes available through government and private agencies. The book can be downloaded from the ministry’s website.
Dillon said to close the gap between supply and demand for housing the Ministry recognised it had to think and apply strategies that were outside the box. He said the solutions being implemented would be cost effective and produce sustainable socio-economic outcomes.
“We have expanded our mandate to include a public education and awareness programme to encourage and empower our citizens to become more informed, more self-reliant, using an aided self-help approach and as such, become increasingly less dependent on the state. This approach demonstrates the Ministry’s willingness to utilise new and interesting ways of addressing our challenges in an ever changing environment, especially as we are called upon to do much more with a lot less.”
One of those plans was the Housing and Village Improvement Programme. He explained that people could not apply for it, so the ministry was in the process of conducting a social survey to determine who qualify for it. He said the programme started in Moruga where the ministry delivered 30 homes, repaired ten, built a community hall, and improved road and drainage. Since them the project was duplicated in rural areas of San Fernando, Sangre Grande, St Joseph, and Marabella.
Hundreds of people of various economic statuses waited in line to attend the expo and eagerly interacted with representatives at the booths.
Dillon said there were on-the-spot services where people could forms to be immediately processed, financial assessments, apply for grants, get information, and more. He said because of the success of the expo, the ministry may plan another soon.
Booths included representatives from the HDC, the Ministries of Planning and Development; Rural Development and Local Government; Social Development and Family Services, Agriculture, Land and Fisheries; NGOs such as Habitat for Humanity and the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities, utility companies, as well as companies representing financial, energy, insurance, development, contracting and other necessary solutions.
There were also ‘house talks’ covering topics of housing and disabilities, how to be energy efficient in homes, how to be come a homeowner by age 30, how to choose a home on the open market, and more.