500 HOMES FOR CHRISTMAS
By Miranda La Rose Tuesday, October 16 2012
Some 500 families will get houses from the State in time for Christmas, including 150 applicants who have been waiting for keys to their own homes for ten years and more.
“For Christmas we’re having a round of distribution,” Minister of Housing Dr Roodal Moonilal told reporters yesterday at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain after the launch of Government’s Office Outfitting Policy. “It’s been a long time coming. We expect to distribute 500 units before Christmas.”
Just before Christmas last year, Government handed over keys to 150 families and in 2010, a total of 84 families received keys to their own homes.
In a later interview, Moonilal told Newsday the units will be distributed in three categories including through a random selection, or lottery, and through other policy initiatives, such as needs determined by the Ministry of Housing.
The third category is called “It’s Been a Long Time Coming,” which will cater for 150 applicants who applied for housing more than ten years ago. The units will be distributed in Central and South Trinidad in places such as Corinth, Chase Village, and in the East in Malabar, Green Vale, La Horquetta and East Grove in Curepe.
Construction of the units, Moonilal said, began under the previous PNM administration. Some had to be remodeled and some repaired due to faulty construction work. The Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Moonilal said, was solving the building problems in the units and has been distributing two houses every day outside of the media spotlight.
“We have some properties in Corinth Settlement (south), and in Central Trinidad to be distributed later this month,” he said.
While some units in North Trinidad and Diego Martin will become available by next March, Moonilal said the units at Victoria Keyes will take longer. Funding has been a problem in the past but this too was being resolved to have the units completed.
HDC managing director Jearlean John told Newsday the handing-over of the 500 houses by Christmas will bring the number of units distributed this year to more than 2,000, and the number issued since the People’s Partnership Government took office to over 3,000.
Government, she said, has also begun to repair hundreds of the HDC housing stock that had not been repaired in decades.
The HDC has some 159,000 applicants seeking housing units from the State, and Government has begun the construction of over 4,000 new housing units, which are due for completion and hand-over next year. These are under construction in Princes Town, Chaguanas, and Arima.
Under this year’s budgetary allocation, John said another 4,000 to 5,000 units will be built. Construction is to start on these new housing units before year end. Among other places, they would be built in D’Abadie in East Trinidad and Golconda Number Three in the South.
According to John, the HDC is also project managing the construction of some 40 town houses in Tobago.
Housing units, John said, are built according to housing needs. The needs are placed in a database and are evaluated by an internal statistician.
Based on Cabinet minutes, housing was also evaluated for emergencies, disabled persons and for national security.
In terms of persons who express an interest of owning units through the mortgage and rent facility, John said they are assessed by the Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Bank.
On the issue of the demolition of the two HDC buildings in Las Alturas, which would have provided accommodation for some 48 persons, Moonilal said they were being taken apart slowly by a contractor instead of “by implosion”.
“In the same land area,” he said, “there is a demand for spaces for parks and sporting facilities. We may look at using the site for a sporting facility,” he said. Soil movement on which the two $26 million apartment buildings were built during the term of the previous administration caused significant damage to them. The buildings were never occupied.