The Housing and Development Corporation is providing its clients with more ways to pay their debts. Besides traditional salary deductions and over-the-counter payments, clients can visit any NLCB outlet, First Citizens, RBC or Republic Bank to make their payments. Credit card payments will now be accepted and a mobile app is under way, to be completed by mid 2023.
Delinquent clients, however, can expect home visits from HDC workers bearing Linx machines and their receipts will be immediately dispensed.
Minister of Housing and Urban Development Camille Robinson-Regis said, "This is not simply about our clients of the HDC and them being provided with more ways for them to honour their obligations to the HDC, but more importantly it signals this government's intention to get on with the business of digitalisation and becoming a cashless economy. Increasingly, you will be seeing more state organisations following the path being set by the HDC.
"I am certain that citizens would take note of the excellent strides made by the HDC over the last few months, to simultaneously deliver on its mandate to provide safe and affordable housing to the citizens of TT and to improve its operational efficiency."
Managing Director at HDC Jayselle McFarlane said the company is seeking to improve the efficiency of its operations and "to achieve the transformation it seeks into a nimbler customer-centric, cost-and-revenue-focused organisation. While we attend to these internal issues, seeing to have the HDC more streamlined and efficient, it is of equal importance that we turn our attention to our clients who occupy houses and apartments built by the HDC."
McFarlane said the HDC offers a variety of housing solutions to the citizens of TT. People whose monthly income does not surpass $25,000 "can – not will – qualify" for a mortgage to purchase a home. Other applicants can access HDC's rental units, rent-to-own and licence-to-occupy housing solutions.
Access to housing is based on an agreement wherein clients remit to the HDC a monthly rental or mortgage, McFarlane said. Those payments ensure the viability of the HDC. Client delinquency, refusal or inability to pay inhibits the relationship with contractors to perform repairs or maintenance work, she said.
McFarlane said another initiative to reclaim HDC debt was roving caravans which will visit housing communities throughout Trinidad. It will afford delinquent and non-delinquent clients the opportunity "to reduce their debt, and make payment hassle-free and more conveniently."
The caravan initiative, she said, will bring the HDC closer to the communities and will provide real-time information from clients regarding repairs, maintenance or renovation issues they face.
Despite the newly emerging options, one commenter on Facebook said, "I would continue to pay over the counter for my hard copy, rent receipt."
Others in the comment section, more than ten, lamented the length of time they applied without getting any response from the HDC.
McFarlane said, "We know the applicants still on our database are anxiously awaiting that call from the HDC that their time has come."
She said state-sponsored subventions from successive governments of TT, have helped those most needy access housing but it is insufficient for the HDC to implement its many programmes.
"As we deliver to deserving applicants on one hand, we expect that the deserving applicants will do the right thing and honour their obligations to the HDC."