LSA Key Distribution – Jacob Hill, Wallerfield Sunday
Feature Address by
The Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, MP
Minister of Housing and Urban Development
Sunday, October 2, 2022
● 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/Morvant
● Ms. Nirmala Ramlogan, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
● Mr. Wayne Inniss, Chairman of the Land Settlement Agency, and other members of the board of directors of the Land Settlement Agency
● Mr. Hazar Hosein, CEO of the Land Settlement Agency, other members of management of the Land Settlement Agency
● Heads of Division and staff of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Devlopment
● Members of the media
● Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning and thank you all for being here.
This morning we are here in Wallerfield East, to distribute keys to 12 starter houses, to persons who are being relocated from the Jacob Hill recreation ground which is required for public purpose.
A total of 35 residential lots were developed on this Wallerfield East site, including the 12 lots on which the starter homes were constructed. We therefore have another 23 families who are also benefiting from fully developed lots on this site.
This key distribution ceremony demonstrates, therefore, that this government, this caring PNM government, continues to put people first, and in so doing, continues to nurture our greatest asset.
Today’s ceremony provides us an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made on behalf of the most vulnerable in our society. It also gives us encouragement to recommit ourselves and redouble our efforts to ensure that every family in Trinidad and Tobago has a real chance at affordable and decent shelter, as envisaged in the National Development Strategy, Vision 2030, consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
As was announced during the reading of the national budget in Parliament on Monday, your Government has approved, for fiscal year 2022/2023,145 construction and repair projects under the Land Settlement Agency, the LSA. What we are doing here at Wallerfield, we will continue to do on the other 145 projects implementing strategies and procedures to increase safety, security, and the well-being of families and the model will be replicated nationally. In this regard, the 12 families here today represent hundreds more who will benefit equally over the coming weeks and months ahead….
And we are not stopping with these 12. The LSA has engaged in further infrastructural development works on 35 lots within the Jacob Hill East site. These works include drainage works (construction of concrete box drains and detention ponds) and road works, at an estimated cost of $6 million. Upon completion of the works, occupants of the site will benefit from improved infrastructure.
When the LSA conducted its Comprehensive Social Survey of State Lands, 30 structures on the Jacob Hill Playground were identified as single-family residential structures. It was further determined that the quality of the houses in the area provided insufficient shelter. 89% of the households were assessed as offering poor living conditions. In addition, an estimated 52% of the structures were categorized as shacks, lacking basic amenities such as access to pipe-borne water and sanitation facilities. The survey results also highlighted that only 15% of the households had approved electricity connections.
That is why your government is taking action. The Land Settlement Agency makes it clear that squatting is illegal, however, as a caring government, we know the lives of the most vulnerable in our society should be improved, not diminished, by the Regularization experience. We have here today a shining example of how your government goes about doing precisely that. Today’s distribution is part of our concerted effort to increase access to basic housing for the people who need it most.
So that whilst the law provides for squatters to be penalized harshly, as a caring government, through the Land Settlement Agency, we evaluate the situation holistically, and we ask; “What can we accomplish together?” Well, Today proves that together we can accomplish a lot: the humane relocation of 12 households, as it became necessary to facilitate infrastructure development works to serve the wider community of 35. This way, everyone wins. Everyone is grateful. Everyone is happy.
Building a nation, governing a country means that we must respond effectively to the socio-economic conditions of our people. I know that is what every Member of Parliament here wants. I know that is what every Minister here wants because we are dedicated to improving the lives of our citizens, to creating brighter futures for the young people in our care, and to ensuring our seniors live in dignity.
Those occupants of the Wallerfield East site who applied for Certificates of Comfort, will be processed to Statutory Leases and eventually Deeds of Lease when the lots are fully paid for. Other occupants who occupied lots before June 14th 2014 will have the opportunity to be regularized through the Tenancy route.
In the first instance you will get a short-term tenancy from the Commissioner of State Lands which will be followed by a Statutory Lease and ultimately Deed of Lease, (which is the final step in the regularization process) when the lots are fully paid for. Which means that you would then fully own the land which you occupy (a status of legitimate ownership), which can then be used to secure a loan or passed on to your children (a step forward in creating generational “wealth”). This is another huge benefit that your government has approved for you. In fact this innovative solution was approved by the Cabinet in the year 2020.
The beneficiaries of all these starter houses, including those which are being distributed today, will be regularized though the Tenancy route. Let me remind you therefore that you will have to pay for your lots, but you will do so at the highly subsidized rate of 40 percent of the open market value to be determined by the Commissioner of Valuations. Payments will have to be made over the period of the Statutory Lease which is for a period of 30 years . Of course you can choose to pay off immediately and move to your deed of lease which is for 199 years .
So again, thank you very much, everyone. Thank you to the Land Settlement Agency for the good work you are doing. We aim to continue improving the living standards of all citizenry, and as such the Ministry through the LSA will continue to issue more Statutory Leases and Deeds of Leases to eligible COC holders in the near future.
Thank you all for your attention this fine Sunday morning.
More than hope you have a good week, I would like to think we are ensuring you have a great week in your new homes.
All the best and congratulations, and may God continue to bless you and your families.