Residents of Linden who turned up yesterday for the Ministry of Housing’s one-stop-shop house lot distribution had mixed reactions to the criteria set for persons of various income brackets and economic standing as it relates allocation and the size of land.
Hundreds of persons from across Linden and surrounding communities flooded the Linmine Constabulary Drill square, some with the full amount estimated for the payment for their land, others with enough for part payments and some were empty handed. A number of persons said that though they had applied for plots of land a number of years ago they were only informed of the one-stop-shop about a week ago. They claimed that most of them are of the low income bracket and would have needed earlier notice to allow them to put their monies together. “You see we are small people and they should have given us longer notice to get our act together, I come here for my land now but I don’t have any money here now so what are they going to do in my case,” queried a young woman, Gillian Amsterdam.
Several persons felt there should have been an across-the-board fixed price and size for each house lot so that despite a person’s economic situation each should have been given equal opportunity to acquire a house lot. “If they want to do it this way they should have had a special housing scheme that a certain class of people could have had access to but to mix we up here and all the land is in the Ward [Amelia’s Ward] don’t go down too well with me,” said one applicant.
Others felt the size of the lots for the various categories should have been made public prior to yesterday’s event. “What we want y’all to tell we now is what is the size of these lots we don’t want to wait and pull a lot before we could know the size, we want that information now,” yelled a small businessman, Mr McFarlane.
Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali said that when requesting a loan from financial agencies there are certain criteria set out. He said low income earners must have one child below the age of 21 and must be earning below $60,000 a month. As regards young professionals who earn above $60,000, have no children and the responsibility that surrounds a family, “then the burden of payment is less…, so what we do in these areas is that we try to strike a balance.”
Ali insisted that it was made clear that once a person’s application was in the system, that person would not be prevented from owning a lot. “The mechanism is put in place so that the payment could be made over time, we are going to extend those periods excepting for the professional group so I want you not to worry about that.”
The Amelia’s Ward housing development is said to the largest to be developed in the country.
He expressed confidence that Lindeners are as aggressive as persons in other parts of the country when it came to the repayment of their loans.
Upon the completion of the distribution of the 1,000 house lots to residents the government would have collected $176,200,000 after an investment of $500,000,000 which means that the government would have subsidized the process by $323,800,000.
“We have already started work in Block 22 Wisroc; we have already started the block survey, getting the plan ready and designing Block 22, so when that is completed which we hope to do next year we will have another 740 lots made available,” added Alli. The regularization of squatter settlement is also gaining the attention of the ministry and some 2,000 squatter settlements are in the process of being surveyed and within another two to three weeks titles would be distributed to those residents.