Home Improvement Grant Programme Cheque Distribution Ceremony
the Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis
Minister of Housing and Urban Development
Bon Air Community Complex Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Honourable Adrian Leonce, Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
Claire Davidson-Williams, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
- Nirmala Ramlogan, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
Hermian Smart-Findlay, Manager, Housing Programme Facilitation & Implementation Unit (HPFIU) of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Development
Beneficiaries of today’s proceedings
Members of the Media
- Ladies and Gentlemen
[Check against delivery] Thank you, chairperson. Good morning everyone.
Since taking office as Minister of Housing and Urban
Development, I have been talking to people all across the country about what we all need to do to ensure our citizens have greater access to adequate and affordable housing. This is Goal number three under Theme 1 of our National Development Strategy Vision 2030: Putting People First, Nurturing Our Greatest Asset.
Vision 2030 is our national strategy to ensure that everyone sees improvement in their social conditions and quality of life. It provides for an orderly long-term development process, inclusive of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
I think people all across the country understand the challenges that are out there, because for the past two years, together, we have been facing a harsh pandemic. What the pandemic is showing us though is that we are a strong and resilient people because we are fighting back. Under the leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, we drafted a Roadmap to Recovery from the pandemic. It is the way forward, the way to take care of our people, the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
Leaving no one behind, making equity and empathy central is one of the three pillars of transformation arising out of that
Roadmap to Recovery, and with today’s ceremony we are, once again, giving priority attention to this goal. That’s why we are here today, delivering on this promise to you.
As you may have heard from the Finance Minister in the MidYear Budget Review, in 2015, we met a challenged Treasury, yet, we took on the challenge of bringing back the economy from freefall. We did not waste time. We invested in our people, in our businesses, and in our economy, to reverse the damage that was done by the Administration before 2015. We tilted the scale back in the favour of the working class, after much favour was shown to some of the wealthiest people in this country for five arduous years.
As you heard in the Mid-Year Budget Review our deficits are coming down and our hope is going up.
So we are investing in people like you. We are rebuilding an environment for more durable economic growth. But as many struggling families will tell you, we are not yet where we need to be. Because even before the pandemic hit, we had lived through a period when only a few were doing better and better, while most ordinary families were struggling.
Reversing this trend wasn’t easy, but this Government made it our top priority.
Now, today we are not just handing out cheques. We are giving you a step-ladder of opportunity to improve your homes, to live with greater dignity, to improve your standard of living and quality of life. Now, I know the cost of construction material is high. I know this grant will not cover all your expenses. It’s ‘a help’ but it’s also a reflection of our belief in you, in your ability to match or surpass our contribution to make your home a better place. That’s why it’s called the Home Improvement Grant.
Today, like everyday, I’m sure you give thanks that you have a home, even though it may not be perfect. A home is the most tangible asset that lies at the heart of family formation. It’s the cornerstone of a civilization, and it’s something for which we should be thankful. Many people don’t have their own home. You do. So it’s important that you take care of what you have. It’s important that you use this grant wisely and responsibly.
Not everyone who applies for this grant gets it. We have a database of 19,760 applicants and you are among the first beneficiaries of this grant in this fiscal year, so think carefully about how you are going to spend it. Let what you do with this grant be the ultimate evidence that this money was invested in you wisely.
You can be the testament that your Government gave you this grant responsibly, that your Government was right to give you this grant, that you deserved it because you will make it go a long way, because you will use it for the purpose for which it is intended: to improve your homes and by extension your community.
Approved repair works include (but are not limited to):
- Roof and ceiling repairs;
- Electrical works;
- Plumbing works including installation of indoor toilet and bath;
- Improved facilities for persons with disabilities;
- Additions, upgrades and adaption of space to ease overcrowding;
- Replacement of damaged floors, doors, cupboards and windows;
- Other works deemed critical to maintaining the integrity of the structure.
Today, we are giving out eighty (80) cheques: forty-two (42) for homeowners in South Trinidad; twenty-eight (28) for North East; and ten (10) for North West and Central. In total, the cheques we are giving out today add up to one million and five thousand dollars ($1,005,000). This money is going to persons in places like Erin Road, Siparia, Barrackpore and Chatham in South; Arouca, Arima, Valencia, Sangre Grande, and Manzanilla in the East; Couva and Chaguanas in Central; Port of Spain and Diego Martin in the West.
Fifty-eight (58) additional cheques are being prepared by the Accounts Unit and will be available for disbursement shortly. Cheques not earmarked for formal distribution will be disbursed directly by the HPFIU.
For Fiscal 2022 seventy (70) families have already received Home Improvement Grants. Over the next few weeks, a further 243 families will receive grants.
The purpose of this grant is to equip households to carry out basic structural repair works, to enhance their living conditions. The grant helps maintain the country’s current housing stock by increasing the number of homes that undergo repairs, and as a result, reduce the annual national demand for new homes.
To you, and to many Trinidadians who have received this grant before, a home is more than just a house. It is a source of pride and a source of security. It is a place to raise children, to put down roots; a place where you build your family, where you retire with dignity. That’s why we are proud to be here today to help responsible homeowners improve their places of abode. The truth is, for some of you it has been a long, slow process. That’s because when a Government is giving out money, it has to be careful. We have to make sure we get it right. But I am pleased and proud the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development is helping so many of our citizens to defray the costs of their home repairs. I am proud to stand up for homeowners like you. We work too hard not to take a moment like this one to appreciate what is going on here today.
So because of all the actions your Government has been taking, the housing market is beginning to heal, construction is picking back up. This is reflective of the fact that, overall, the economy is beginning to heal from the pandemic.
So we are making progress. We are helping, and you will be helping too, to move the economy forward, to move the country forward. But we are not done yet. We have to help more responsible homeowners, and we will help more responsible homeowners. Since our Vision 2020 statement, the predecessor to Vision 2030, this Government had set out to distribute 1,500 of these grants per year, and that’s a target that was reiterated in the National Budget for Fiscal 2022.
So I want you to encourage you. I want to encourage all the beneficiaries here. Let’s get those repairs done because a brighter day is ahead for you and your families.
As a Government, we are addressing the most urgent needs of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. And part of that is that, while we are making plans to build more affordable housing, we are improving the housing we already have. That’s important not just for you, the beneficiaries of today’s ceremony but for the entire country. We are ensuring that families can improve their homes and enjoy decent shelter. We encourage responsible homeownership. We will continue to invest in our people.
So spread the good news. Your Government stands with you. We are leaving no one behind! We are making equity and empathy central to our governance. So with that, I thank you.
May God bless you, and may God bless our nation.