Government intends to complete 6,000 HDC houses by December 2020, and following that, 3,000 houses each year. In the budget on Monday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert noted the push would still not be able to satisfy the 175,000 applicants currently registered for state-provided housing.
Imbert said the building of housing units were constrained by a lack of funding and the rising cost of construction. “Even at a production rate of 3,000 new HDC houses per year, it will take decades to meet the public demand for housing. As MPs, on both sides of the House, we are all inundated on a weekly basis with demands for housing from our constituents. It is perhaps the most pressing issue that we have to deal with, since our population has been conditioned over the years to expect the Government to provide them with an HDC house at a discount price.”
He said satisfying the demand for houses continues to be a challenge even in the face of initiatives such as resuming stalled housing projects, the accelerated housing programme, the aided self help programme, which provides people with lots where they can now build their own houses, the housing and village improvement programme which has been extended to 100 families in Sangre Grande, St Joseph and Marabella, and public-private-partnerships which are attracting local and foreign investors.
Imbert introduced two new housing initiatives to further deal with the housing demands. He said government decided to initiate a new housing construction programme where small builders will be tendered to construct basic three-bedroom houses on serviced lots at a cost of $500,000 per house and contracts would be awarded in batches of 5-10 houses.
Imbert said there would be no requirement to tender for the houses, one would simply have to “qualify” to participate. He also introduced a housing loan initiative where low interest loans will be provided for up to $300,000 to build their own homes. He said the programme will be given in December in the Finance Act. In his $53 billion budget presentation, Imbert proposed $1.007 be devoted to housing.