Key Distribution Ceremony
The Honourable Adrian Leonce, MP
Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
Corinth Site B Housing Development, Corinth San Fernando March 29th, 2023 10:00 a.m.
- The Honourable Brian Manning, Minister in the Ministry of Finance and Member of Parliament, San Fernando East
- Deputy Mayor of the City of San Fernando, Alderman Dr. Ferri Hosein
- Ms Frances Seignoret, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
- Mrs Shanmatee Singh Ng Sang, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
- Mr Noel Garcia, Chairman of the Board of the Trinidad and Tobago Housing Development Corporation
- Chairpersons and Members of the Board of the Subsidiary Companies of the HDC
- Ms. Jayselle McFarlane, Managing Director of the Trinidad and Tobago Housing Development Corporation
- Hazar Hosein, Chief Executive Officer, Land Settlement Agency
- Mr. Robert Green, Chief Executive Officer Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company
- Departmental Heads of the Ministry, Divisional and Senior Managers of the HDC
- Distinguished Guests
- Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning and thank you, Master of Ceremonies, for that kind introduction.
I bring you greetings from the Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, who is attending another government meeting at this time.
It gives me great pleasure to join you today for this Key Distribution
Ceremony and to mark another delivery milestone for the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). Our aim is to distribute as many housing units as possible to qualified applicants as soon as they become available to the HDC from the contractors.
For you the recipients, I am elated that this moment has arrived. You have worked hard and sacrificed a lot to make this dream a reality. Your responsibility now is to fashion these units into homes where you can grow and nurture your families and build safe, vibrant, resilient communities in which to live, work and play.
We recognise that adequate and affordable housing provides not only economic security, but also helps with one’s physical and mental wellbeing, which in turn, improves a person’s ability to contribute to nation building. With this in mind, your government remains committed to taking responsible actions to increase home ownership in Trinidad and Tobago.
To truly advance as a nation and to be able to create sustainable communities as highlighted in our country’s National Development Strategy/Vision 2030, we need more days like today. Under this Administration, led by our Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Keith Christopher Rowley, I can give you the assurance that, as long as Minister Robinson-Regis and I have the pleasure to serve at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, we will have many more days like today, for the citizens of our blessed Nation.
Only a few weeks ago, Minister Robinson-Regis led site visits to seven active construction sites at Freeport, Carlsen Field, Chaguanas, Valsayn and Mt. Hope, to check on the work in progress. One week later, a team from the Ministry visited other sites under the Land Settlement Agency, at Allamby, Tarouba; Cashew Gardens, Carlsen Field; Glenroy II, Princes Town; and Woodford Lodge, Chaguanas. It is on that basis that I can tell you, without fear of contradiction, that more days like today are coming!
You are all aware that the demand for public housing is high. As the Honourable Prime Minister noted at our Mon Repos sod-turning event late last year, the public housing construction sector had slowed considerably between 2010 and 2015. It has been on the front burner since then to satisfy the growing need.
We recognise that the demand for public housing is also fuelled by the high quality and affordability of the units delivered by the HDC, at costs, I might add, heavily subsidised by the State. Houses built by the HDC in recent times are among the most desired in the country, with beneficiaries assured that they are getting value for money. When someone is requested to pay $500,000 for an HDC house, keep in mind the Government’s considerable input in terms of the cost of the land, infrastructure, construction and subsidised mortgage rates. This reflects our commitment to providing quality residences for our citizens.
We would like to witness many more families as happy as you are today. However, for this to happen, it is important that you honour your financial obligations with punctuality and regularity so that the funds can be reinvested to construct even more homes for other applicants to benefit. As it is, the HDC stands to collect over forty-eight million dollars ($48Million) in revenue from the sale of these units being distributed here today, which will be reinvested into the housing programme. Just as we are keeping our promise to you, I am confident that you will honour your commitments to the HDC to pay your mortgages/rents when they are due, so that others can experience the same euphoria you are feeling today.
This Government remains committed to not only achieving our national goal of providing access to adequate and affordable housing but also to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11 – which is ‘to build sustainable cities and communities’. With this in mind, a decision has been taken to reorganise the HDC, moving it from its current structure to that of a holding company. Under this new entity, there will be three distinctive and laser-focused subsidiaries, each with its own clearly speltout mandate: a construction company, a facilities management company, and an asset management company, all with the aim of delivering even more units to those who need them the most.
The asset management company will be responsible for ensuring the sales are completed for the finished units in a timely manner, as well as managing the housing portfolio until the unit is officially handed-over to the purchaser.
The construction company will manage all aspects of property development, including land acquisition, urban planning, project and construction management, as well as the provision of financing solutions to undertake the various development projects.
The facilities management company will focus on property management, including the maintenance of rental housing units, while partnering with the Regional Corporations and other external service providers to provide maintenance of all HDC properties.
With the focus on efficiency and productivity, the HDC will therefore be better positioned to leverage its huge asset portfolio and thereby begin the process to significantly reduce its reliance on the public purse for its viability.
In fulfilling the mandate to provide adequate and affordable housing, the HDC has forged several Public Private Partnerships (PPP) during the last few years, with companies such as the Furness Group, NH International, the Ansa McAl Group among others, to increase the number of housing units available to our citizens. Under PPP arrangements several developments are being constructed in areas such as Malabar and Trestrail Gardens in the east, Eden Gardens in Central and Corinth B (Riverside East) and Corinth C (Riverside South) in San Fernando which, when completed, will provide an additional 636 homes.
The HDC is open to entering into Public Private Partnerships with those willing to invest in the public housing sector. To this end, in December 2022 the HDC hosted a symposium for potential investors within the industry and we look forward to ongoing and future collaboration.
I must draw your attention to the fact that over the past five (5) years – 2018 – 2022, the HDC has allocated just under four thousand townhouses, apartments and single-family units. For fiscal 2022-2023, we are continuing with the construction of several hundred units, not only under the HDC but through this Ministry’s Land Settlement Agency. We have also resumed construction on stalled HDC project sites. We will therefore be better positioned to allocate several thousand more units to successful applicants upon completion of these projects.
You will be pleased to know that as of 2018 to the present, we have been able to develop over 20 hectares of land, right here in Corinth, to construct just over 285, two and three-bedroom townhouses and single-family units, with all of the necessary infrastructure. At this greenfield site, over 60% of the units constructed have already been allocated, with the others earmarked for distribution over the next few months. The developments are all in close proximity to several amenities including schools, shopping and entertainment centres (example at C3 and South Park malls) sporting and recreational spaces, which make them ideal for modern living.
I wish to congratulate on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, all new homeowners in Corinth, Carlton Place and Cypress Hills – San Fernando, Eden Gardens – Freeport, Harmony Hall – Marabella, Edinburgh South – Chaguanas, Heron Court – Malabar, Preau Village – Moruga, Greenvale – La Horquetta and Huberstown – La Brea.
To our new homeowners today, you will be receiving the key to a home that was once a dream but is now your reality. I urge you to take the time to maintain your acquisition so that you can enjoy this level of comfort not only now but for many more years to come. In so doing, you can also leave a legacy of inter-generational wealth for the young people who come after you.
As part of a fledgling community, you have the opportunity to assist in shaping it into the neighbourhood you want to live, and have your children grow up, in. You have the power to instil positive values, promote peace and avenues for development that can contribute to the sustainable growth of your areas. This will require cooperation among residents and taking on the mantle of leadership in some instances.
Each of us has a role to play in national development. For most, that means just doing the right thing and being good, law-abiding citizens. Let us, therefore, work together with that shared vision. I pray that we will.
I know that we will.
Before closing, on behalf of the Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis and myself, I would like to take this opportunity to extend Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day greetings to you all, understanding that this commemoration holds great significance not only for members of the Spiritual Baptist faith, but the entire nation.
May God bless you all, and may God continue to richly bless Trinidad and Tobago.
Thank you all very much.