– To soon hand over 70 acres of land to Joint Services
IN its quest to meet the high housing demand in the country, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) will be providing approximately 1,600 housing solutions to Guyanese for 2020, its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lelon Saul has said.
Of that number, approximately 400 house lots, totalling 70 acres, will be allocated to the Joint Services – the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Fire Service and the Guyana Prison Service.
Appearing recently on the Guyana Chronicle’s online programme Vantage Point, Saul disclosed that the CH&PA is finalising plans to hand over lands to the Joint Services for housing.
“In the coming weeks, we will be making available to the Joint Services approximately 70 acres of land which will be used for housing by the Joint Services. At the Central Housing and Planning Authority, we are in the process of completing the design layout for that scheme and we will hand over the land to the Joint Services, and that is the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Prison Service and the Guyana Fire Service,” Saul told this newspaper. He disclosed that the 70 acres of land, to be handed over to the Joint Services is located at Little Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD).
Saul further detailed that an additional 1,200 housing solutions, comprising both house lots and built units, will be developed, and allocated to applicants during 2020. It was noted that between 2015 and 2019, a total of 6,541 house lots were allocated to citizens across the country, in addition to 444 built units in Regions Three, Four, Five and 10 – amounting to approximately 7,000 in total. The built units included duplexes, upper elevated two-bedroom houses, single flat two and three-bedroom houses.
“Notwithstanding the solutions that were made available, we still have a very huge demand for housing,” the CEO noted, while pointing to the fact that there are approximately 60,000 active housing applications within the system. He said the demands are for single units and house lots, and the authority will provide a composite going forward.
“We will be taking two approaches: one, we will make available house lots for those who prefer house lots; also, we will make available built units so there will be two approaches as we go forward,” Saul iterated.
Zooming in on the huge housing deficit, the CEO said of the 60,000 applications within the system, approximately 30,000 are as a result of a qualitative deficit while the other 50 per cent is quantitative deficit.
“It therefore means, many persons who approached the agency for a housing solution in some cases, what they actually need is a subsidy to fix existing buildings that they are living in,” Saul said as he explained the qualitative need.
However, there is often an issue of ownership when finance is sought for renovation, the CEO further posited. Nonetheless, he believes that the issuing of subsidies can help to bring down the numbers. “We believe that granting subsidies to those who satisfy whatever criteria, it would help to reduce the qualitative deficit,” Saul said.
Cognisant of the need, the CH&PA will be accelerating its US$27M Adequate Housing and Urban Accessibility Programme, which will see approximately 2,000 subsidies being distributed and a number of core houses built.
The Adequate Housing and Urban Accessibility Programme comprises three components – Affordable and Sustainable Housing; Consolidation of existing Housing Schemes; and Support and Institutional Strengthening.
It is under the Affordable and Sustainable Housing component that US$5M has been earmarked for a Home Improvement Subsidy Programme that will see 2,000 persons accessing as much as $500,000 to rehabilitate their homes. Under this component as well, another US$5M has been budgeted for the construction of 250 core homes.
According to Saul, very soon, CH&PA will commence the disbursement of the subsidies and the construction of 50 of the 250 core homes. “In terms of the subsidies, we are currently going through the beneficiaries’ selection process for home improvement subsidies and core houses…and very shortly we will disburse subsidies for home improvements and about 50 core houses [will be constructed] in the Sophia area,” the CEO disclosed.
The programme, which targets low-income households, spans from La Bonne Intention (LBI) on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) to Georgetown to Great Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) and Parfaite Harmonie on the West Bank of Demerara (WBD), and is being implemented by the Ministry of Communities through the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Meanwhile, President David Granger said once re-elected, his administration will establish a National Squatter Resettlement Commission to provide adequate land and housing for those currently living in ‘slums.’ This commission, according to him, will be established on March 15, 2020 should the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition return to government.
Since taking office in May 2015, the Granger administration has placed major emphasis on the housing sector. In January, 20 families received keys to their new homes at Prospect, on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) after squatting on Broad and Lombard Streets in Charlestown for decades. The houses were built by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) and the NGO, Food For The Poor (FFTP) Guyana.
Back in 2017, some $43M was allocated by the CH&PA to have a total of 72 houses erected for the squatters. The 20 houses, valued at $36M, form part of Phase One of a two-phase project.
Since 2015, the CH&PA has initiated a number of settlement regularisation plans for Guyana, in an attempt to address the sore issue of squatting. Last December, it noted that some squatting areas would be regularised and converted into housing schemes, while others such as ‘Plastic City’ would be relocated. Some 173 squatting settlements are being targeted.