Barbados government committed to affordable housing

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Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley unveils the billboard for the new HOPE Project at Vespera Gardens, Lancaster, St. James yesterday. She was joined by Minister of Housing, Lands and Maintenance, Dr William Duguid (third from right) and officials. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

By Sharon Austin

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (BGIS) —  Prime minister Mia Amor Mottley has reiterated government’s commitment to providing affordable housing to citizens.

Mottley emphasised this point as she delivered remarks at the launch of the Home Ownership Providing Energy Inc. (HOPE Inc.) Project, at Vespera Gardens, Lancaster, St James.

HOPE Inc., a state-owned enterprise under the ministry of housing, was established by Cabinet last November to provide affordable housing solutions to Barbadians.

The prime minister told those gathered: “This government is committed to giving as many of you an ownership stake in this country, and this government is committed to doing it in a way that is affordable. And we are going to think outside of the box each time because we recognise that it is not a straightforward case, and that in many instances, people need a helping hand, in order to be able to stand on their own.”

She noted that the housing needs of the country were multifaceted, and she expected to see a number of different responses to them, over the next few months.

Under the HOPE initiative, first-time homeowners earning no more than $4,000 per month, who under normal circumstances would not be eligible for a mortgage without a substantial deposit on their own, will now have an opportunity to have monthly mortgage instalments of about $795 for a two-bedroom or $1,000 for a three-bedroom house.

“We recognise that while this one will deal essentially with persons earning $4,000 or less, there will soon be another groundbreaking that is intended to deal with persons between the range of $4,000 to $8,000 a month, … because there are different needs.

“But even as I say so, we are also deep in discussions to be able to deal with that other class of persons, who perhaps more than any other need it because their circumstances of housing are considerably difficult and challenging given the density, and given the lack of quality housing available to them,” she explained.

Under the HOPE initiative, first-time homeowners earning no more than $4,000 per month, who under normal circumstances would not be eligible for a mortgage without a substantial deposit on their own, will now have an opportunity to have monthly mortgage instalments of about $795 for a two-bedroom or $1,000 for a three-bedroom house.

HOPE will provide the land at no cost to the buyer, allowing the person to qualify for a mortgage, with the land as collateral. HOPE will recover its cost for developing the land through photovoltaic (PV) systems over a period of 15 to 20 years. At the end, HOPE will give the homeowner the PV system.

Mottley described the housing initiative as a “creative and compassionate” one, and said she would like to see more ingenuity across the housing landscape.

She added that HOPE Inc. was given the mandate to ensure there were reductions in the cost of land, the services to develop the land, mortgages, and home construction.

She underscored the importance of creating green spaces in major housing developments. “My government has been resolute about the need for parks, green spaces and public spaces, where people can reflect and come in tune with nature.

“And to that extent, whether it is a National Botanical Gardens, … Golden Square Freedom Park, … other small parks and communities across Barbados, I have sent a very, very clear message that our green and blue environment matter to us and therefore, in the execution of housing, we need to make sure that … those spaces are created… We are not taking any chances going forward. We are going to utilise planning gains to ensure that those things are done as a matter of obligation,” she stressed.

HOPE is offering a “one-stop-shop”, consisting of mortgage financing, attorney services and house insurance at the lowest rates possible.

Minister of housing, lands and maintenance, Dr William Duguid, broke ground today at Vespera Gardens, where construction will begin on the first 32 of the planned 165 houses, which are all due for completion this year. Over the next 18 months, developments will be constructed at Colleton, St Lucy; Pool, St John; and Todds, St John.

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