The housing sector in Guyana is expected to take an exciting turn in the next couple of years with the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) embracing the idea that housing is not the mere provision of house lots or poorly erected low-cost structures but rather a part of a larger image characterized by socio-economic interactions with the immediate community and wider society.
This would include communities complete with the relevant infrastructure (road, water, electricity, communication) playgrounds, parks, shopping centres, gyms, places of worship, banking facilities and a lively economic zone.
It is in this context that housing now has to be strategically aligned alongside the larger community development goals- a work in progress for the Ministry of Communities.
This new approach to housing involves several key principles that are aligned with government’s thrust for the housing sector; such as building strong alliance between banks and contractors, combining livelihood promotion and business operation and the integration of low-cost housing with harmonious community spirit.
It is against this backdrop that emphasis will be placed on CHPA’s planning function with respect to settlement development, land use control and management which is integral in the housing and community development process.
This will be done by adopting a more integrated and participatory approach in the development and implementation of the housing programme. This programme, in keeping with the Housing Act, will ensure that the shelter needs of low income households are met. Also, as mandated under the Town and Country Planning Act, the CHPA will be strengthening its enforcement arm to ensure conformity to land use permits and land use control policies and regulations as stipulated within planning schemes.
In this regard, the priority areas of actions for the remainder of 2016 through 2020 will include; housing settlement for low income earners, regularizing squatter blocks and consolidating existing housing developments.
Presently, the Central Authority continues to work with other agencies in ensuring that instances of unapproved structures and unauthorized use of reserves are brought into compliance and confirmatory with regulations that govern land use development. In going forwardthe CHPA will initiate and support the preparation of spatial development and land-use plans in collaboration with Local Democratic Organs and other key stakeholders as mandated under the Town and Country Planning Act that will guide all future settlement development. The CHPA will also focus on existing communities, outside of the Government.
The housing communities to be established will be carefully planned, organized and we will roll- out implementation strategies that will involve the participation of the potential residents upfront and all stakeholders in the planning and execution processes to ensure that wholesome and cohesive communities are a reality.
The CHPA’s Board and Management concur that in order to successfully implement the Plan of Action, attention must be paid to the issue of current and comprehensive data. With respect to the CHPA’s database, although data exist in the system, it is not comprehensive enough to provide the basis for key decisions as it relates to the future intervention within the existing housing areas. To address this information gap, a field exercise will be commissioned during the period September-October 2016 to provide a status of the real situation existing in the field.
In addition, critical financial information will be compiled to provide the real financial status for each housing area. The data collection exercise to be commissioned will also provide necessary data to inform policy review with respect to selection of beneficiaries to benefit from the Government’s housing programme.
Some important issues that would be addressed in the revised policy include: Applicants’ preferences with respect to location and type of housing solutions; and rigor and stringency in the eligibility criteria to determine housing need instead of desire.