Officials from the Ministry of Communities and the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) on Friday met with a visiting team from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) where a medium-long term housing program was presented.
Various interventions relating to the overall direction of the housing sector and the proposed construction of 10,000 housing units were discussed.
The engagement took place at the Department of Housing’s Brickdam office, Georgetown.
Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan said government recognises housing as a major public policy issue and a key area of focus not only in relation to the provision of shelter but in the alleviation of poverty.
He disclosed that the initial focus seeks to cater for the construction of 5,000 apartment units as part of medium terms plans to deliver 10,000 units to eligible Guyanese including state employees, low income earners and youth.
Minister Bulkan pointed out that of the 63, 257 lots allocated in the past 20 years under the previous housing program, 28, 220 are still unoccupied.
This, he said, points to the low levels of disposable income, the inability to access mortgages and the inadequate provisions of basic infrastructure in many of the areas.
With 25,000 applications in the system and 17,000 households classified as low income earners, the Ministry of Communities is examining innovative strategies to provide housing solutions to satisfy the great demand.
“The target of 10,0000 units was conceptualised based on an assessment of the current needs,” the Communities Minister said.
He expressed optimism that components of the housing program will be included in Guyana’s eventual submission to the IsDB.
During his remarks, Chairman of the CHPA Board, Hamilton Green stated that housing is an absolute necessity and priority and provides a space for individuals to feel safe and satisfied.
Chairman Green noted that when citizens are properly housed, it provides for greater access to education, healthcare, social services, job opportunities and other basic provisions.
He emphasised that adequate and appropriate living conditions is not to be trivialised adding that the provision of this basic need can assist in mitigating other variables including domestic problems, child abuse and anti-social behavior.
“We urge you to join us on this major undertaking and partner with us in improving the lives of all Guyanese,” the CHPA Board Chairman said.
Director of Country Programs Department and Special Advisor to the Vice-President, Mohammad Alsaati, in echoing Green’s sentiments, said that persons who have access to adequate shelter can “rule the world”.
He explained that the desire of the Islamic Development Bank is to work with Guyana in pursuit of its medium to long-term strategy that will match available resources with the country’s work program.
“The idea is to get the broad policy outlook of the sectors and more importantly the specific projects that can be undertaken in the near future,” Alsaati outlined.
The IsDB executive related that the bank is anticipating “fruitful collaboration” and will work with the local stakeholders to develop worthwhile business opportunities.
Proposals from the various government agencies and Ministries are being coordinated by the Ministry of Finance which has responsibility for presentation of Guyana’s development priorities and projects.