Housing Authority has billions to offset Housing Project – Finance Minister
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THE CENTRAL Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) is sufficiently funded to execute Government’s ambitious Housing Project which includes the construction of duplexes, condominiums and apartments, according to the Finance Minister Winston Jordan.

He explained that the Housing Authority had approximately $8B to $9B sitting in its Housing Fund. “We don’t need to fund them until they exhaust those resources,” Minister Jordan told reporters.

Last week, Minister with responsibility for Housing, Valerie Adams-Patterson had said that the first set of duplexes would likely be constructed within the first quarter of 2017 but the source of finance for this project was yet to be determined.

She had disclosed that the Ministry had made a pitch to the Islamic Development Bank with the hope of acquiring finance to execute the housing project but on Monday, the Finance Minister maintained that the Central Housing and Planning Authority had more than sufficient funds to execute the project.

In his budget presentation, Minister Jordan pointed out that the authority had reviewed the process of allocating house lots, given that approximately 25,000 applications were on file, of which almost 18,000 were for low-income individuals.

Evidence had shown that there was a lack of a holistic approach in providing quality, affordable housing in safe, well-serviced communities, the Minister of Finance said.

“Many recipients of house lots remain unable to start construction, while others have been allocated lots in areas that are woefully under-developed and without basic infrastructure. Still, many more are saddled with poorly constructed turnkey homes,” he pointed out.

He said the Housing profile study was in progress and would be the basis for the preparation of the National Housing Policy which was expected to inform the revitalisation of the sector so that it could fulfill its catalytic role within the economy.

For this year, a total of 1,921 new house lots have been allocated to potential home owners, while 4,208 land titles were distributed, and 173 squatters were regularised.

“Mr. Speaker, a new model for providing for the housing needs of the thousands of low-income individuals is being considered, in recognition of the critical links between housing construction, home ownership, consumer spending, revenue generation and economic growth,” he told the House.

In going forward, he noted that the mode of providing affordable housing would include a mix of multi-storied apartment buildings, duplexes and single-family homes within sustainable community structures.

In keeping with the Government’s green agenda, structural designs will integrate elements for improved natural lighting and ventilation.

“While this is ongoing, works will be accelerated to complete the infrastructural development of prioritised housing areas where allottees have indicated their readiness to begin construction.”

These initiatives, he further pointed out, will involve a comprehensive feasibility assessment of existing housing areas, squatting areas and land for future development; in addition to the consolidation of planned housing areas and the upgrading of regularised squatting areas.

“Given the huge demand for house lots and the limited availability of serviced lots for distribution, the Government intends to pilot a project to construct apartments, condominiums and wooden houses in existing planned areas, such as Stewartville, Cummings Lodge, Perseverance, and Amelia’s Ward,” he noted.

While the Government has not set aside funds to execute the Housing Project given that there are sufficient funds in the Housing Fund, it has allocated $100M, under the Hinterland Sustainable Housing 52 Programme for the construction of 115 subsidised housing units and 45 roof and water catchment system subsidies in Regions One and Nine.

On the lighter side, the Government, through the CHPA, will strengthen its planning function in this sector by holding national planning forums, formulating development plans, organising community development projects, sensitising the general public on building codes and standards and building the capacity of small local contractors.

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