Sophia Core Homes
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THE Ministry of Housing and Water, through the Central Housing and Planning Authority, (CH&PA) has signed contracts to the tune of $136M for the construction of core homes in Sophia, Greater Georgetown. The homes are constructed under the Adequate Housing and Urban Accessibility Programme (AHUAP).

This programme is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which, in addition to the construction of core homes, also provide for the basic infrastructural works. Several other communities have already benefitted from this facility and other low income areas are also being targeted.

This is yet another manifestation of the interventions made by the PPP/C administration to address the housing needs of Guyanese, especially low income earners who are challenged financially to build their own homes.

This facility will be of tremendous benefit to the residents, who until the regularisation programme initiated by the PPP, were squatting on state lands. Many residents in the Sophia area were forced to squat on State lands due mainly to the then PNC’s regime inability to satisfy the housing needs of Guyanese, especially low income earners.

It remains a lasting shame on the part of the then PNC regime that it ignored the cries of the Guyanese people for a piece of land on which to build their homes in a country where there is no shortage of land for housing purposes.

Guyana is endowed with one of the highest ratio of land per head of population in the Anglo-phone Caribbean. Yet, a significant number of Guyanese were forced to squat on State lands without any form of social infrastructure such as water, electricity and basic sanitation.

Sophia became the largest squatting community in the country, ironically a mere stone’s throw away from the headquarters of the PNC. The cries of the ordinary people were largely ignored by Congress Place and at one time housing was removed as a line item in the budget estimates!

The PNC regime, during its tenure in office, had a dismal record when it comes to providing for the housing needs of the population. Under its ‘Food, Clothe and House the Nation’ programme during the 1972-76 period, a mere 13,000 housing units were developed out a promised 65,000 units.

As a result, a significant backlog of unfulfilled housing needs accumulated over the years resulting in the development of slums and squatting. Sophia was one such area, which, under the PPP/C, was not only regularised but several infrastructural works were done to make life easier for residents. More remains to be done but the current administration has commenced the process of putting the necessary facilities in place to cater for the health and recreational needs of the community.

It took the return to office of the PPP/C on October 5, 1992 before housing was once again put on the front burner. Thousands of house lots were developed and given out to Guyanese from all strata of the society but more particularly working families who hitherto were unable to obtain house lots.

The decision taken by the Ministry of Housing to construct core homes for residents of the Sophia community is a commendable gesture and is part of the overall goal of the PPP/C administration to ensure a roof over the heads of all Guyanese families.

And in a related development, a high level team from Barbados recently visited the country to explore investment opportunities in several areas including housing, fisheries, oil and gas, mining and forestry, among others. The team was led by Dr. William Duguid, Minister of Housing and was a follow up to a discussion held between President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali and his Barbadian counterpart, Mia Mottley.

Housing is definitively on the move. The PPP/C in its manifesto promise has undertook to make available 50,000 house lots to Guyanese during the life of its current term in office, especially low income families. This is in addition to the over 100,000 house lots distributed during its earlier stint in office. The housing landscape has changed in Guyana, thanks to the PPP/C government. Indeed, housing is one of the success stories of the current administration.

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