THE Division of Settlements, Public Utilities and Urban Development will be holding a draw next week to determine the recipients of THA lands and houses to be distributed.
The announcement was made by secretary of the division Ian Pollard as he addressed reporters during Wednesday’s virtual post Executive Council media briefing.
Pollard said coming out of the assembly’s recent retreat, his division was given a mandate by THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine and the Executive Council to look into the grant distribution and housing programmes to assist Tobagonians.
“There is a shortage of housing lot numbers in Tobago," Pollard said. "Next Friday, we would have this draw at the division’s headquarters for almost 70 parcels of land – we have 14 at Belle Garden, four at Blenheim and almost 50 parcels at Riseland.
"This would be distributed among persons who are disabled; those who have been in the grant programme, the loan programme with the FCB bank; the protective services; teachers. So, we’ll have equitable distribution and transparent distribution of these parcels of land.”
He said also within the next quarter, there will be eyeing alternative financing for development in two areas – Adelphi in Mason Hall, and Riseland.
“We’re also looking at the (housing development) phase two at Courland and Adventure and at Castara – so at the end of this term, we are set to deliver over 500 parcels of lands and houses to the people of Tobago.”
He added: “We’re looking closely at the most vulnerable – the CEPEP, the URP workers, those who have lost their jobs – we know that the cost of material is high now so we’re trying to come up with some mechanism in which these citizens could be afforded a parcel of land or a low-income house.”
Pollard said private developers are also interested in getting on board.
“We have a lot of financiers who wish to come to the table, bring their own monies, develop these properties and build these houses, but we are mindful that most Tobagonians, because the high cost of materials, may not qualify – so we’re looking to do mixed development.
"We would distribute lands for those who cannot afford and houses to those who can afford.”
Additionally, with regards the grant distribution programme, he said just last week over $250,000 was distributed to 46 recipients.
“I am pleased to announce that within the next three to four weeks after lobbying the Chief Secretary and the Executive Council, we have an outstanding balance to those persons who would have applied for grants of over $5 million.
"This would be distributed by the division within the next two to three weeks. So we are bringing a measure of relief to those who have applied, who have been in the system for almost two years waiting on a second tranche or who are waiting to receive their first tranche.”
He said the division is looking to modify the policies and procedures for grant distribution to make it easier to access.
“We find them to be a bit harsh – too much is required for persons who are really in need. So we’re also looking and hoping that corporate Tobago can assist us in bringing some measure of relief to these persons living among us.”