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The Honourable Randall Mitchell- Feature Address- Housing Distribution Ceremony – Dec 16, 2017

Good morning everyone.

At these key distribution ceremonies I imagine these scenes of Happiness filling the air as a mother turns the key to her new home for the first time. The laughter of children as they ride their bicycles in open green spaces surrounded by well-developed streets. The excitement as families are able to entertain friends and loved ones in their porches and celebrate milestones and special events. The diverse aromas emanating from kitchens of the homes as families prepare meals for their loved ones.

At the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the HDC, we understand the importance of home ownership. Home ownership is not just about owning a piece of real estate. Home ownership is about being able to provide safe living conditions for you and your loved ones. Home ownership is about ensuring that you and your families can live rewarding lives. We understand this and this is why the PNM’s Housing Policy is one that caters to those at the low to middle income levels.

My Dear Friends, we are in a situation where 174 thousand applicants of are actively looking toward the Government for housing solutions. This is no small number of citizens to satisfy. This is why we have been working assiduously to increase the housing solutions to be made available to deserving citizens.

In light of our economic realities, the HDC has had to re-engineer its processes and re-assess its projects and plans in order to ensure that it still delivers, notwithstanding scarce financial resources.

So what has the HDC done in 2017? We were able to continue our Accelerated Housing Programme through the commencement of new developments at Corinth , San Fernando; Gomez Trace, Moruga; Harmony Hall, Gasparillo and Trestrail Lands, D’abadie. We also resumed work on projects that were previously stalled. These include Real Springs Development in Valsayn; Vieux Fort in St. James, Carlsen Field, Malabar, Lake View in Point Fortin and Bon Air North, Arouca. Over the last few weeks, a number of homes in these developments have been allocated and distributed to many families and we intend to continue distributing more as soon as they are completed.

This government understands that the housing units must never remain unfinished, vacant or unoccupied. That is why, we took the decision to re-commence works on these developments notwithstanding which administration started the project. We see the larger issue, which is that these housing units must go to those who need them most.

In 2017, we were able to allocate and distribute close to 1200? homes inclusive of homes to the joint protective services and the elderly and differently abled.

This year, we were also able to complete community parks in Gomez Trace Phase 1, Tarodale, Pleasantville, Corinth Hills, Orchid Gardens, Lisas Gardens, Bourg Mulatresse and Harmony Hall. We deem the construction of these parks as important because we believe that open spaces allow for the development of our children’s motor skills, provide an environment for meaningful interaction and help to reduce anti-social behaviour. In the upcoming year, the HDC hopes to be able to construct other community parks and spaces in other developments.

Ladies and gentlemen we have done a lot. And when I say we, there are many persons involved in all the work that gets done.

Allow me to pay tribute and to thank the chairman of the board of directors, Mr. Newman George and all the other board members. Mr. Rasheedali Mohammed, Mr. Bernard Mitchell, Mr. John Cardenas, Mrs. Janice Quamina, Mr. Keith Scotland, Mr. Keli Gbekor, Mrs. Chandra Gokool, and Mr. Ian Downes. Thank you for all of your dedicated service over the past year. It wasn’t an easy one.

Let me also pay tribute to the management and staff at the HDC for doing so much more with so much less and being able to adapt to the current economic circumstances while still delivering on its mandate. Particularly, the Managing Director, Mr. Brent Lyons for pulling the organisation together and to work in unison despite all the internal and external challenges.

I’d also like to express my sincere and heartfelt gratitude for all the work done by my Permanent Secretary and all the staff at the Ministry of Housing for all the work in delivering our mandate, Especially in organising our new Aided Self Help Housing Programme and our Squatter Regularisation thrust.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the upcoming year, I will do my best as Minister to ensure that the HDC continues to build homes and communities that are liveable, safe, secure and which encourage a community approach to its development.

As Minister, I am committed to working with the HDC so that they are able to build housing communities of which we can all be proud. We believe that quality affordable housing is the base that promotes good health and economic prosperity and we want the residents in our communities to be motivated and inspired to live their best lives.

But ladies and gentlemen, for you to continue enjoying the rewards and happiness that home-ownership brings, you must do your part. Today, you will be presented with your packages for you to take to your financial institution to finalise the mortgage. The sooner you do this, the sooner you will receive your keys to your homes. This is a New approach. And we believe it is more proactive, efficient, and reduces the opportunity for delinquency.

As I close, I must thank the Allocations department and the Maintenance Staff at the HDC and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development who have all worked together over this past year to ensure that we are able to distribute as many homes as possible to you, our deserving citizens.

This is the season of reflection, joy and good tidings. Therefore, I take this opportunity to wish you and your families, a safe, joyous and spirit-filled Christmas and a 2018 that is prosperous and productive.

Ladies and gentlemen, congratulations to all of you. I wish you and your families the very best. God Speed, and I thank you for allowing me to address you this morning.