SAYING housing has always been a priority of the PNM, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Pennelope Beckles distributed deeds of lease to “deserving recipients” on Friday saying she knows how it feels to finally get these documents.
A handing-over ceremony took place at the Land Settlement Agency (LSA) site at Gosine Street in Carapichaima as part of Government’s Aided Self-help Housing Programme.
The minister recalled that growing up with her parents in Borde Narve, on the outskirts of San Fernando, the family lived as tenants on Caroni 1975 Ltd land. “I remember how proud my mother was on the day she purchased the property and received a deed. I can understand how special it is to get a deed,” Beckles said.
Through the ministry and its agencies, government remains committed, Beckles said, to providing affordable housing solutions to middle and low-income families. This is evident in the ministry’s programmes including the Aided Self-help Housing Programme and the small and medium contractors initiative. The 11 recipients each have a lot that costs 30 per cent of its market value. They also get subsidised mortgages at 2 per cent and 5 per cent interest rates from the TT Mortgage Finance Company. Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Beckles said she has been “settling in well” at the ministry after being appointed by the Prime Minister shortly after the August 10 general election.
“This is the first time I am serving in this ministry and I appreciate the opportunity. I am looking forward to implementing the Government’s mandate. The real issue deals with long outstanding requests (for housing),” Beckles said.
Asked if as she received any complaints about alleged corruption in the ministry, she said “no.” She noted that before becoming the minister, she read of complaints in the newspapers. She promised to address all issues brought to her attention.
LSA CEO Hazar Hosein, in remarks at the ceremony, said he was very proud to be part of the initiative. To the recipients he said, “You are receiving these lots at an average price of $400,000. You are getting a 70 per cent subsidy. It has all the statutory approvals like town and country, WASA, drainage department, and the regional corporation.” Hosein said they must complete construction within two years of receiving the leases.
“It is for you not for you to keep the land for your grandchildren. You are the ones to build on these properties. There are serious consequences if you do not fulfil what you agreed to,” Hosein said.
“We at the LSA are ready to not only deliver lots but all services to get the houses built. We request the continued assistance from all the other agencies such as the commissioner of state lands to help us fulfil the dreams of so many deserving citizens.”
Other officials present were Minister in the Ministry of Housing Adrian Leonce and LSA chairman Ossley Francis.
Recipient Leon Martin, 74, a retired policeman from Cashew Gardens in Chaguanas, told Newsday he was elated to get the deed.
“I have been waiting for more than 20 years to get this. Recently I got a stroke. I am glad to benefit from this programme. I have eight (adult) children. I also have about four or five great-grand children.”