Hundreds of potential homeowners yesterday flocked the Perseverance Housing Scheme, on the East Bank of Demerara, to get a glimpse of affordable housing options available at the Housing Solutions 2017 and Beyond Expo, which was opened by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA).
During the opening ceremony for the four-day expo, Junior Minister of Communities Valerie Adams-Patterson announc-ed that the prices for the house lots in the Persever-ance model village would be reduced to $300,000 for lower income lots, $500,000 for the moderate income lots and $700,00 for the middle-income lots.
She said that the decision to reduce the prices was taken to both assist the exhibitors and ensure that the final prices for the homes would be affordable.
Adams-Patterson said the model village challenges financial institutions to develop innovative ideas to make their products and services accessible to the small man.
She added that it also offers young persons the opportunity to start their own journey towards home ownership. She added that as long as she remains in her portfolio, she plans on building more of the model villages in every region.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who delivered the feature address, said that while housing remains a necessity, Guyana in its 51st year is still grappling with meeting the need.
Nonetheless, he commended the CH&PA, under the Ministry of Communities, along with several private contractors responsible for the expo, for showing Guyana that the dream has not been lost and it is still possible for all citizens to be housed decently.
Nagamootoo reminded that under the previous government there was an effort to provide house lots but he added that it became almost laughable that they could give out house lots to people who lacked the means to build.
Against this background, he said the current government needed to have an integrated platform that could allow house lots to be occupied by real houses. Towards this end, he noted that Perseverance is a pilot scheme for many others to come. Perseverance is at a strategic location, where there will be a road linking the East Bank to the East Coast, he noted. He also pointed out that it is ideally located in a community where there is a university, an international hotel, an international call centre, a development building depot and multi-complex businesses.
Nagamootoo said that the government was committed to the development of integrated areas, where housing is linked with jobs, schools, recreation and where there is a wholesome community for children and grandchildren to grow up. He informed that the government’s concept is not only to build houses but to develop integrated communities that could benefit from all the modern facilities that it can afford to provide for the people.
Meanwhile, in his brief remarks, Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan said that Perseverance represents an acknowledgement of a new approach that was needed. He said that the project, which is known as the ‘1,000 Homes Project,’ started in 2013. In the next year, he said, the first batch of 50 houses were constructed. However, by the end of 2015 and at the time the new administration took over, none of the new houses could be occupied.
Bulkan said this reality immediately informed the government that the approach was wrong and that the state was not geared to be an efficient builder of homes. He said that the role of the state should be a facilitator and to create an enabling environment and to allow the private sector, in an open and competitive process, to construct the houses.
He said that to date, 200 two-bedroom houses of 600 square feet have been completed at a direct cost of approximately $4.6 million each. He said that the figure does not include the further expenditure of approximately $630 million for infrastructure costs, such as land preparation, roads, bridges and drains, water, electricity, the cost of the land itself, and all other expenses associated with the execution of the project.
A few models of the homes on display at the expo ranged in price from $6.5 million to $17 million.
On Sunday, one potential home owner will win a free house lot during a drawing. Contestants have to be applicants who are pre-qualified for a low-income house lot.
Corporate gold sponsors for the expo are: Gaico Construction, Republic Bank Limited, the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) and Namilco. The bronze corporate sponsors are: New Building Society, ScotiaBank, Demerara Bank Limited, Citizens Bank Limited, Gafoors Group of Companies, Courts Furniture Store and the North American Life Insurance Company. Also among the exhibitors are the Kissoons Group of Companies, Oriental Furniture Store, Home Design and Engineering Associates, Canadian Caribe Construction, Narine’s Investment, Z and H Investments, R Tech Design and Construction, S and A Associates, Eyes on the Ground Agency, TriStar Unit, and Frontline Hardware Store.
The expo will be open from 11am to 10pm today and tomorrow and from 11am to 3pm on Monday. Admission is free.