THE HDC will build cheaper houses and not compete with the private housing sector, Housing Minister Camille Robinson-Regis told the House of Representatives in the budget debate on Tuesday.
She said housing units should be affordable to people on the HDC’s list of applicants and include a certain level of standardisation and economies of scale.
"And so we are revising the construction models to simpler, scaled-down units, and to also allow for units for rental.
"The HDC had definitely moved away from its moorings. The HDC had come to a point where it started competing with the private sector, almost to the point of pushing the private sector out."
She said a public-private-partnership model will be used to build affordable houses.
"The HDC is moving back to...producing rental units, units at a reasonable mortgage price, at a reasonable purchase price, and units that are more in keeping with the type of housing that those who are on the list, and want houses, can easily afford."
Robinson-Regis lauded the HDC's use of small and medium contractors, who she said "have been doing an excellent job."
"As we speak, the HDC is in discussions with the ANSA McAl Group, which will see the construction of several houses at a cost of between $250,000 and $400,000, and this is in the Arouca area.
"HDC is at this time also reviewing a number of PPP proposals, which are expected to yield significant units in the coming years."
She said most houses delivered by the former People's Partnership government had been built under the earlier PNM administration, including Golconda, Corinth, Retrench, Pleasantville, East Grove, Malabar and Edinburgh.
"And these houses were built at an average cost of $400,000-$650,000, much cheaper than what they eventually built houses for under their administration."
Robinson-Regis alleged PP-built houses had been "shrouded in mismanagement and squandermania."
"At Cypress, Union Hall, the average cost of a three-bedroom unit was $1.4 million, putting a strain on the HDC, and leaving 258 units incomplete. We have been in the process of completing them.
"The famous Eden Gardens, where they paid $175 million for the land, result(ed) in an average cost of a unit being $1.6 million."
She said at the Oasis project, each unit cost an average of $1.4 million.
"Whilst the units were costing that amount of money, they had to sell them at a much reduced cost. So clearly, the HDC was not operating in a way that was to the benefit of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago."
She said in 2014 the HDC's income was $90 million but $3 billion was spent on building houses.
"In 2015, the total income was $106 million and the cost of construction was $963 million."
Robinson-Regis said the HDC had huge operating losses, while contractors were owed hefty sums, amounting to $1,243,080,000 in 2015.