The Honourable Randall Mitchell- Address- Key Handover Ceremony
- Simone Thorne-Mora, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
- Newman George, Chairman, HDC and other members of the HDC Board
- Brent Lyons, Managing Director, HDC and other members of the HDC management team
- New Home Owners
- All other Specially Invited Guests
- Members of the media
Good morning to you all!
Allow me to offer all the key recipients here today and your families my sincerest congratulations on this new and welcome step in your lives.
I know that the last thing you may want to hear at this time is a long speech. I do give you the assurance that I will not be very long.
However, as Minister with responsibility for housing and urban development, I must use this opportunity as we come to the end of the Fiscal Year to highlight some of the good work that has been done at the Ministry and at the Housing Development Corporation.
TIME TO COMMUNICATE
We have been extremely focused on our mandate of delivering opportunities to those citizens seeking affordable shelter, and at times we may inadvertently overlook the importance of informing the public on the progress we have made with our projects and programmes that are all aimed at improving the Quality of Life for you the Citizens.
Ladies and gentlemen, I assumed duty as Minister of Housing and Urban Development in March 2016 and I am proud to say that since then we have been able to accomplish quite a lot, notwithstanding our economic realities.
I am proud to say that with VERY LITTLE, WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO A LOT.
Government’s housing policy is based on three pillars: Affordability, Accessibility and Improving the living conditions of our citizens. I always try to link our policy and these three pillars in demonstrating how they guide the work of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and our agencies.
ACCELERATED HOUSING PROGRAMME
One of the programmes that the last PNM government created was the Accelerated Housing Programme which is a programme geared towards providing Affordable and Accessible Housing to those qualifying citizens who need it most.
Just yesterday, and you may have seen it on the news or on social media, we offered the media a tour of just 5 of our 7 Housing development projects that we have currently under construction on the East West Corridor. Of these 5 housing developments, we will be able to deliver to you, the Citizens just about 1200 units. With approximately 350 quality units to be delivered before the end of the year.
This is just on the East West Corridor.
In all, across the country we have 23 housing developments in our portfolio that are right now under construction that would add approximately 5000 units to our Housing Stock. And as I’ve said time and time again, we intend to complete all 5000 by 2020.
Now these 5000 units will cost close to $2.5 Billion dollars to complete. And we will complete it with the little assistance that we will get from Central Government, but mainly from the proceeds from our mortgage conversions of LTOs and RTOs.
We also have quite a number of housing development projects in the planning stages that we intend to get off the ground using private sector funds under our Public Private Partnership model as well as Joint Ventures etc. These developments we hope to bring an additional 3000 Housing Starts with completion by 2020.
We do all this wITH you, the home seeker in mind. Because we know what security of tenure means to a family seeking safe and affordable shelter.
Another of our programmes under the Ministry of Housing is our Affordable Mortgage Programme administered through the Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company. And as promised in the Budget Speech of fiscal 2017, the Affordable Mortgage Programmes were adjusted to encourage greater access and greater affordability for persons seeking financing for their home and land purchases.
For persons wishing to access the 2% financing regime, we have increased the qualifying monthly income from $10,000 to $14,000 and the property value from $850,000 to $1M. In terms of the 5% facility, the lower limit of $10,001.00 has been moved to $14,001.00 with a higher limit of $30,000.00. This would allow for the purchase or construction of properties up to $1.5M on the open market as well as HDC properties.
IMPROVE LIVING CONDITIONS
In terms of the last pillar, improving the living conditions of our citizens, we have also been doing a lot. For this year, we have provided 44 Emergency Shelter Relief Grants to citizens who would have experienced the harsh effects of flooding, high winds, fires or other hazards. Our flagship programme at the Ministry, the Home Improvement Grant Programme, has for this financial year, provided over 500 grants to families who desperately needed to improve and repair the infrastructure to their homes.
Through our Squatter Regularisation Programme, we have worked assiduously over the past year on upgrading and improving the living conditions of those Certificate of Comfort holders who were living on state land prior to 1998. We have ensured that these developments in designated sites have the necessary drainage, roads, water, and electricity connections through the application of 2 IDB loans as well as government funds.
We are now able to offer over 4000 certificate of comfort holders, that is, we are now able to offer 4000 families marketable Deeds of Lease and Statutory Leases in areas such as Jacob Hill, Wallerfield; Glenroy, Princes Town; La Paille, Caroni and KP Lands, Valencia. Areas that have all benefitted from these infrastructure works.
You will hear more about this in the coming weeks.
Again, you can see, we are working to improve the living conditions and to positively impact the lives of as many citizens as possible so that citizens can live meaningful and rewarding lives in safe and affordable shelter.
The work we are doing in East Port of Spain, through our urban renewal programme also helps to improve the living conditions of the residents there in particular, our Latrine eradication programme.
Ladies and gentlemen, by adhering to our Housing Policy and these 3 pillars, we are ensuring that we are able to provide you with options for safe and affordable shelter. Whether through Home Ownership, Rental Opportunities, or Affordable Mortgage Opportunities.
By completing all previously suspended or stalled developments and starting new ones, we are ensuring that our Accelerated Housing Programme continues. And through our Home Improvement Grant programmes and our Squatter Regularisation Programme, we are improving the living conditions and impacting on your Quality of Life.
Fiscal challenges or not, we are doing our best to serve you.
This Government understands the importance of Safe and Affordable shelter and the benefits that having a home can provide.
We also understand that we have a responsibility to assist those who require assistance.
In the same way that we have a responsibility, I want you, new home owners to realise that you also have a responsibility. Your responsibility is to honour your financial commitments. Pay your mortgage and your monthly rent on time. You see, when you honour your commitments the HDC receives revenue which it can use to construct other developments that would benefit other families seeking affordable shelter.
I’m sure that you would want to ensure that other citizens are able to access shelter opportunities like you have.
So ladies and gentlemen, as I conclude, Please accept my congratulations on this important life stage. I am sure that the pleasant memories and happiness that you will experience will endure forever.
At the Ministry of Housing and the HDC we continue to do more with a lot less. With you, the citizen in mind at all times.
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for allowing me to address you today.