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Gov’t. To Rollout Second Tranche of Housing Assistance Programme

Housing and Local Government Minister, Richard Frederick
Housing and Local Government Minister, Richard Frederick

Hundreds of Saint Lucians are set to receive assistance from government by way of its National Housing Assistance Programme (NHAP).

According to Housing Minister Richard Frederick, government is preparing to roll out the second tranche of the programme which will focus on repairing houses for indigent, elderly and dispossessed individuals.

The Department of Housing and Local Government launched the assistance programme in 2021. Frederick, in 2021, noted that at least 20% of Saint Lucia’s population live in squalid conditions that includes lack of sewerage facilities and pipe-borne water. He also pointed out that people continue to live in overcrowded houses and faulty buildings.

On Monday, at a press briefing, the Housing Minister told reporters “at this juncture, in fact come the 2nd of August to coincide with the removal of VAT on the relevant building materials, we are about rolling out the second tranche of two million US or XCD 5.4 million. I want to emphasize that the programme is meant for… persons that live in deplorable conditions and cannot afford to repair the houses on their own. The aim of the programme is to assist in repairing and not to build houses.”

“That does not mean that a district rep in his or her own deliberate judgment coming across living conditions of a given constituent  may come to the realization that it is cheaper to rebuild this house than to refurbish it—those are exceptional cases, but this is not meant to be the order of the day so we are rolling out the programme and we are hoping to assist… between six and seven hundred families across the length n breadth of Saint Lucia,” he added.

The $10 million project is being funded by the Republic of China (Taiwan). According to Frederick, “we have only received and spent one quarter, only one quarter of the ten million dollars earmarked for that purpose.”

He also noted that there are various requirements that must be met. He pointed out that “the programme is not a novel programme and persons know exactly what to do. They know they have to fill in a form that basically speaks to their income… every constituency has one person allocated to do site visits and to see the justification or lack thereof, of any application made under the National Housing Assistance Programme.”

Once that is done, he added, “we get a bill of quantities in terms of material and we furnish them with the relevant building material having paid the supplier…”

The programme, Frederick told reporters, is apolitical and therefore individuals can explore their options.  He noted that “there are two avenues and they know about both of them. They can walk into the National Housing Corporation—some persons might not feel comfortable walking into the offices of their district representative if they believe that there is a perception of opposition from them… so they are at liberty to walk into the National Housing Corporation and make that request and the same procedure will follow.”

Prime Minister Philip Pierre, in 2021, noted that the NHAP is part of government’s assurance to put people first.

“Putting people first is not a slogan. It’s a philosophy; it’s a way of life,” declared Pierre, as he addressed a host of government ministers and other representatives at the launch.

“It isn’t something that we said to win an election. We really mean it, and in the projects that we are going to be delivering to the people of Saint Lucia, the whole ethos and the philosophy of putting people first is going to be clear,” he added.

The prime minister noted that while economic numbers and infrastructure are essential components in the socio-economic development of the nation, the depth of the government’s policies will be putting people first.

Pierre said the NHAP initiative was not solely geared towards the provision of affordable housing for needy and poor people, but also to address other ‘needed’ things.

“It took the Cabinet through the minister to convince the Taiwanese and the other officials that a more immediate need was to repair the houses of people in this country,” the Minister of Finance disclosed.

While lauding the project at the launch, Housing Minister Richard Frederick said it was imperative for government to take the cue in the provision of affordable housing arrangements for underprivileged persons.

“This government is committed to the task of ensuring that access to affordable housing is a basic need of all the citizenry, but it recognises that interventions on housing in the past did not satisfy the housing woes of the poor and indigent,” asserted Frederick.

“The importance of housing to man remains an unquestionable fact that housing is second to food,” the Housing Minister added.

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