19 houses built since 2018 remain unoccupied – Rodrigues
…houses overpriced, now infested with termites, mould
The former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change’s (APNU/AFC) lacklustre achievements in the housing sector was bared for all to see in the National Assembly, as new Minister within the Housing Ministry Susan Rodrigues walked with evidence of the unoccupied, termite-infested houses the former Government built.
During her budget presentation on Tuesday, Rodriques revealed that 19 houses built in the community of Experiment in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) approximately two years ago, are yet to be occupied. She called it an “experiment” gone horribly wrong and displayed pictures of the state of the houses, to the National Assembly.
“One of the APNU/AFC’s community experience is located at Experiment in Region Five where 19 houses were built some two years ago and until now not one of these have been occupied. The houses built in Experiment was indeed an experiment, Mr Speaker, one that went horribly wrong, leaving CH&PA with a security bill of $23 million and counting,” Rodrigues said.
She noted that the project lacked vision and strategy since the houses were not built to target any particular income bracket but was “another brainless approach to housing and the reason they remain unoccupied up to now. The houses have become dilapidated and infested with termites, making them uninhabitable.”
According to Rodrigues, the 19 houses were collectively priced at $140 million. She slammed the former Government for their failure to cater to the poor and lower-income earners, noting that one flat house was being sold for $8.5 million under the APNU/AFC’s tenure. The former Government’s foot-dragging and failure to provide letters of assurances for persons to get mortgages from the banks was also zeroed in on by the Minister.
“Since they were not built to target any specific income bracket, a flat house with three bedrooms (was) being sold for $8.5 million. I’m not sure which low-income earner can afford a flat house for $8.5 million?”
“The coalition was not concerned about whether Guyanese have a roof over their heads, and the former Minister could not be bothered to simply sign letters of assurance so that persons can approach the bank to have their mortgages approved. Only last week, Minister (Collin) Croal signed a huge backlog of letters of assurances, which were applied for years ago under APNU/AFC.”
This publication had previously reported that since taking office in 2015, the former APNU/AFC Government had significantly reduced the number of house lots being distributed, as well as their targets, despite the increasing demand by citizens.
In 2016, 2020 house lots were allocated with the target being a mere 1100 for that year while in 2017, the Annual Report of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) showed that a total of only 1131 house lots were allocated for qualified applicants.
The report stated that the original target of allocations for that year was just a mere 1000. This represented a major decrease in house lot allocations as well as reduced target figures, compared to previous years under the former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration.
During their previous term, the PPP/C Administration distributed over 100,000 house lots and over 200 core houses were made available to underprivileged families, while a programme for professional groups provided 200 teachers, nurses and policemen with fast track access to loans for home construction.
The 1000 Homes Project was also launched by the CH&PA under the then PPP/C Administration with the Housing Ministry’s Turn-Key Houses programme. Construction began in May of 2014 and by December of 2014, 100 Buttercup Cottages were completed.
New Minister of Housing, Collin Croal has made it clear that the Housing Ministry will be moving towards the distribution of 10,000 house lots over the next year – one of the promises in the PPP/C election manifesto.