No budgetary allocation has been made in the 2017 National Budget for the housing sector’s programmes in the new year. The Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) will access its own funds to undertake the 2017 housing programme.
Minister Finance, Winston Jordan, delivering the budget to the National Assembly on Monday, explained that in 2017, the authority will fund Government’s priority action areas, in housing, targeting low-income and state employees.
According to the Minister, this will also include covering a complete comprehensive feasibility assessment of existing housing areas, squatting areas and land for future development; the consolidation of planned housing areas; and the upgrading of regularised squatting areas.
Jordan said also that 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.
According to the Minister, the CH&PA has reviewed the houselot allocation process, given the approximately 25,000 applications on file, of which almost 18,000 are low income individuals. He said, that concerns about the low occupancy of many housing developments/areas, led to reviews of the mechanisms used to enable home ownership.
“What has been revealed is the lack of a holistic approach in providing quality, affordable housing in safe, well-serviced communities. 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,” the Minister said.
A housing profile study is in progress, and will be the basis for the preparation of the National Housing Policy which is expected to inform the revitalisation of the sector so that it can fulfill its catalytic role within the economy, the minister asserted.
The new model for providing for the housing needs of the thousands of low income individuals is being considered, in recognition of the critical links among housing construction, home ownership, consumer spending, revenue generation, and economic growth.
The Finance Minister said, going forward, the mode of providing affordable housing will include a mix of multi-storyed apartment buildings, duplexes, and single family homes within sustainable community structures and that in keeping with Government’s green agenda, structural designs will integrate elements for improved natural lighting and ventilation.
Further, the Minister said that while this is on-going, works will be accelerated to complete the infrastructural development of prioritised housing areas where allottees have indicated their readiness to begin construction.