Housing and Village Improvement Programme (North) Key Distribution Ceremony
The Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, MP
Minister of Housing and Urban Development
Tunapuna Community Centre
Corner of Centenary St. & Priority Bus Route
Friday, June 2, 2023
- The Honourable Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, Minister of Planning and Development and Member of Parliament for Arima
- The Honourable Marvin Gonzales, Minister of Public Utilities and Member of Parliament for Lopinot/Bon Air West
- The Honourable Foster Cummings, Minister of Youth Development and National Service and Member of Parliament for La Horquetta/Talparo
- The Honourable Adrian Leonce, Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Member of Parliament for Laventille East/Morvamt
- The Honourable Esmond Forde, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Member of Parliament for Tunapuna
- The Honourable Roger Monroe, Member of Parliament for Sangre Grande
- Ms. Frances Seignoret, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
- Chairman, Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, Alderman Kwasi Robinson
- Mrs. Shanmatee Singh Ng Sang, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
- Mr. Wayne Inniss, Chairman and members of the Land Settlement Committee
- Mr. Hazar Hosein, Chief Executive Officer of the Land Settlement Agency
- Members of the Housing and Village Improvement Programme (HVIP) Committee
- Senior officials of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and of the Land Settlement Agency
- Beneficiaries of the Housing and Village Improvement Programme
- Distinguished Guests
- Members of the Media
- Ladies and gentlemen
It is always a source of great joy for us as Members of Parliament and the Cabinet when we are able to see the realization of our intense discussions and deliberations, being translated into actual delivery to the persons for whom the specific programme was intended. Today, I join with my colleagues in congratulating all 36 recipients of keys to your starter homes, as you conclude this phase of your journey to home ownership, and begin the new phase of creating memories.
Since its launch by a PNM administration in 2017, this Housing and Village Improvement Programme (HVIP) has improved the living conditions of thousands of deserving citizens in communities throughout the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago. Years later, this current PNM administration is continuing to build on the work of our predecessors who understood the immense importance of home ownership in creating a strong and sustainable family culture. And today, you have the privilege of joining that growing list of citizens, providing even more evidence of a Government that cares for and looks after those who are not entirely able to do it for themselves.
Ladies and gentlemen, the PNM Government is the only one that has produced and documented a clear strategic plan for the growth and development of Trinidad and Tobago.
It was a PNM Government that produced Vision 2020, and evidence of its successful implementation can be seen, not only in the physical transformation of Port of Spain, as the misguided few would have you believe, but also in Education through GATE, Health through CDAP, Youth Development through MILAT and MYPART, and the list can go on forever.
Today, we continue to engage in the economic and social transformation of our beloved Republic through the implementation of Vision 2030. The very first pillar of our Vision 2030 is that no one, no citizen, will be left behind. By delivering the keys to your starter homes today, we are delivering on that promise we made to our citizens, and which was re-emphasized in our post-pandemic Road to Recovery strategy.
Our commitment to you is the reason we are in Tunapuna today: to deliver 36 newly constructed two–bedroom units under the Housing and Village Improvement Programme. These units are located in different areas along the east-west corridor including: St. Augustine, Bon Air, Arima, Jacob Hill, Sangre Grande, St. Joseph, Demerara and Tunapuna/Piarco.
None of this would have been possible though without the guidance and leadership of the teams at the Land Settlement Agency, the Land Settlement Committee, the small and medium contractors and you, the homeowners, who understood what was at stake and were willing to collaborate to get the work done…thank you for faithfully completing the job with which you were tasked.
The 36 starter homes being officially handed over today were built at an approximate cost of five point nine four million dollars (TT$5.94M), the majority at a cost of one hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars ($165,000.00) each. The Government considers this to be a worthwhile investment as it aligns with our Vision 2030 policy whereby we put our people, our greatest asset, at the core of the country’s development.
All the experience in housing construction and development suggests that there is always a trickle-down effect to other sectors of the national economy, as it stimulates employment, business activity particularly at the level of the mom and pop establishments, and by extension, some degree of prosperity. The Housing and Village Improvement Programme engages small contractors from the area and utilises an Aided Self-Help approach to build the starter units. This is an important partnership and we appreciate that so many can work together to produce benefits for all.
Since 2017, the LSA has constructed four hundred and fifty-nine (459) starter homes across the length and breadth of Trinidad, including Moruga, Point Fortin, San Fernando, Rampanalgas, Embacadere, Princes Town, Talparo, Claxton Bay, Oropouche, Naparima, Tabaquite, Morvant, Las Cuevas, Beetham Gardens, Diego Martin, Arima, Bon Air, Sangre Grande, and St. Augustine, to name a few.
It is worth noting, ladies and gentlemen, that some of the areas I have called are located in areas that have never had representation by a PNM Member of Parliament, underscoring the point that there is no discrimination in the development and distribution of housing solutions. The only criterion is need – satisfying the needs of our citizens – and we will continue to do this, notwithstanding the criticisms we receive from our friends opposed to us.
For each of these 459 starter houses constructed and distributed, it means that a correlated number of families have benefited from this programme.
Trust me when I say, we are not stopping there! We are far from finished! While we will be presenting keys to thirty-six (36) homes shortly, we have another eighty-four (84) houses currently under construction, and in fiscal year 2023, the LSA has moved to start construction of an additional two hundred and seventy-five (275) starter homes.
I am happy to report that in Fiscal 2023 the LSA has proposed the construction of similar starter units in communities across the country, namely: Couva, Claxton Bay, Morvant/Laventille, Princes Town, Guayaguayare and La Brea.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Housing and Village Improvement Programme is but one of several programmes funded by this Government that ensures the provision of cost-effective housing solutions to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. One such programme is the Government Aided Self-Help Housing Programme.
As recently as last month, I had the pleasure to distribute Deeds of Lease to 50 families in Central Trinidad. These leases were for 27 fully developed lots at Factory Road, Chaguanas and 23 similarly developed lots at Orange Field Road, Carapichaima.
This is yet another tangible demonstration of this Government’s commitment to distributing State resources in an equitable manner. In total, we have successfully provided an alternative shelter option to just over five hundred (500) families under that specific programme since its inception in 2018. More importantly, it means we have been able to clear over 500 names from the HDC’s burgeoning list of applications.
Today, tremendous capital and asset value are being placed in your hands, and with it, the commencement of intergenerational wealth. You now have, just as the families who received Deeds of Lease, negotiating power in your hands. You now have collateral which can be utilized to grow your asset base even further. And that is what this Government is about, ladies and gentlemen, empowering you and your families beyond the present, empowering this generation and the next, and in so doing affording everyone the opportunity to enjoy an enhanced quality of life.
Because we recognize the tremendous value of this programme, I can tell you that as Minister, I am more than elated that the LSA was able to have completed these homes on time and within budget! The consequence of this is that even more starter houses can be constructed. Your government understands that, and I can boast today that we succeeded in increasing the budgetary allocation to this programme from thirty million dollars ($30,000,000) in fiscal 2022 to fifty-eight million dollars ($58,000,000.00) in fiscal 2023.
I assure you today, ladies and gentlemen, that true to our Vision 2030 commitment, our aim is to accommodate more families under the Programme.
Indeed, determined as we are to ensure that no one is left behind, in August of last year, Cabinet approved an increase in the number of households that can benefit from the Housing and Village Improvement Programme by creating a new subsidy structure that facilitates the construction of houses on undulating and/or hilly land.
This decision was taken after recognizing that several applicants residing in undulating and/or hilly areas were denied the opportunity to benefit from this programme, as contractors could not undertake works utilising a $145,000 budget. Understandably, the cost of construction on such terrain is higher.
Accordingly, Cabinet approved the introduction of a three-tiered subsidy structure, based on land topography, to be used for all ongoing and future construction of these two-bedroom starter homes. This new structure meant that the cost per unit moved from the original $145,000 to:
- ) $165,000 for construction on flat lands;
- ) $170,000 for construction on undulating lands; and
- ) $175,000 for construction on hilly lands.
That is why I can say today, without fear of contradiction, that no government has been able to accomplish so much within the public housing sector or provide as much social support to the vulnerable in society than this government! In fact, no non-PNM government has sought to make such a major difference in the lives of citizens, and I can assure you that the facts, those that have already emerged and those that will emerge, will bear us out.
Under the astute leadership of our Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley, we understand what we need to do in order to accelerate our country’s economic recovery. This Government will therefore continue to fund programmes that stimulate economic activity, and provides job for micro and small businesses in communities all over the country.
My friends, Cabinet and Parliamentary colleagues, it is moments such as these that motivate me to want to do even more, in terms of creating policies with real, practical implications to benefit the man, woman and child in the street. It is truly phenomenal to see these starter homes being constructed, to replace structures that were less than wholesome, with homes that are structurally sound, safe and that can withstand natural disasters. Therefore, I trust that you will enjoy your new homes and, together with your families, build strong communities and neighbourhoods that, in turn, will help to strengthen our country.
Congratulations again to all the new homeowners, to the Board, management and staff of the LSA, and to all our small and medium contractors, without whom none of this would have been possible.
Thank you all, and may God continue to richly bless our nation, and bless your new homes.