THE Prime Minister said Government is continuing its efforts to work with the private sector to build affordable housing in TT. At a certificate of comfort distribution ceremony in Enterprise, Chaguanas on Friday, Dr Rowley said Government went so far as to tell the private sector it would “guarantee the profit” if it partnered with the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) in housing construction.
“We said to the private sector, if you build these houses as required by the HDC’s size and cost, we guarantee you, $100,000 profit per unit.” Rowley added, “Surprisingly, there have not been many takers.”
As he speculated on reasons why this could be so, Rowley wondered if, in some cases, a builder believes “that a $100,000 profit is not enough.”
While this is a problem, Rowley said, “The HDC will continue and the Government, the PNM government will continue to give housing the priority that it must have if we are to change the quality of life for a lot of people.”
Rowley, who is also the PNM Diego Martin West candidate, said many people believed that the constituency was known for high-quality housing stock. But Rowley added he knew of communities within Diego Martin West, where two or three families lived in circumstances where they had to share one bathroom.
He said he knew all too well the joy those people felt when they got an opportunity to move out of cramped quarters and into their own homes.
Rowley recalled that under the former PP government, the HDC strayed from its moorings to provide affordable housing to the people who are most in need. He said under the PP, the upper limit at which an earner could get an HDC house at $45,000 per month.
“That is not good public policy.”
After assuming office in September 2015, Rowley said the PNM changed that limit to $25,000 per month.
“The role of the HDC is really and should be to make an opportunity available to those persons at the low earning scale who are least able to face the market outside.”