Rising in support of Budget 2016 in the National Assembly last evening, Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Valerie Sharpe-Patterson sounded a warning to those persons who were allocated houselots and have failed to occupy them, despite having been given these lots for years. The Minister said Government intends to repossess these lands and gave it to persons who are deserving of them.
“Repossession, we would do it and do it sensibly…you cannot have some people owning two to three house lots and some people owning none,” the Minister noted.
In detailing her plans for the housing sector, the Minister assured that the Coalition Government will provide lasting solutions to the current housing woes. She said in so doing, the Government will restore public confidence in the housing sector.
Slamming the previous Government for failing to fulfill the housing needs of Guyanese, she noted that Budget 2016 says to the public that they have a viable partner in the Coalition Government in the development of ‘dignified living.’
Sharpe-Patterson assured that the Government would instead be delivering serviced lots, and ‘quality of product’, including houses. This, she noted is yardsticks away from many of the houses delivered under the previous government.
The Minister pointed out that in the eight months of the Coalition Government; it has encountered houses built under the previous government that have cracks on curbs and flawed designs, among other defects. These houses were given out to people, many of whom are still paying a mortgage for them even as they have to stand the cost of repairs.
This, situation she assured will not continue. “People must have the confidence that when we say we build them a house for $4.5M, they get their money’s worth.”
She assured that in moving forward, the Government will not only place emphasis on delivering quality, but also on removing the bias against delivering lots to young people.
“The APN+UAFC will change every policy that disregards disrespects the young people.” Government is working to not only address reducing the time-span between the application and the allocation of the said lots, but also is moving to put measures in place that would see the applicants now being able to check the status of the said application online, she explained.
She outlined other measures that will be rolled out with the consolidation and expansion of the 1000 turn-key homes programme at Perserverance, East Bank Demerara, as well as the installation of infrastructure in six regions.
In addition, Minister Sharpe-Patterson explained, that the Hinterland Housing Programme will be expanded and new models of core and turn-key homes launched. “If we do a core house, we do not want it to look like a poor house,” she asserted.
The Minister explained that the remodelled houses will be developed based on a consultative, participatory process, whereby the private sector will put forward their options on low to middle income housing.
This would be done as early as May, since the Government plans to host a housing exhibition, where developers will put forward their housing solutions to the patrons, she explained.
Meanwhile, 50 homeowners in government housing schemes will be given $300,000 to effect upgrades to their homes in celebration of the country’s golden jubilee anniversary. According to Minister Sharpe-Patterson this initiative is one that will result in employment opportunities for 1,500 skilled and semi-skilled persons.