Canada, TT firms in low-income housing drive, 120,000 houses to be built

(Trinidad Guardian) The signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Canada-based Wylde Orchid Design and Management Ltd and local firm Prime US Inter-national Ltd to construct 120,000 homes in T&T, is being seen as a solution to solving the 100,000-plus Housing Development Corporation (HDC) applicant waiting list.

Once constructed, the prices of these two and three bedroom homes will range from TT$650,000 to TT$2.5 million and cater specifically to 20,000 single parents and 10,000 senior citizens, while 50,000 will be used for the government distribution programme. The remaining 40,000 homes will be sold as high-end properties.

Chief executive officer, Prime US International Ltd., Stephanie Bonaparte-Primus , left ,poses for a photo with president and chief executive officer of Wylde Orchid Designs and Management Co. Ltd (Canada) during a joint press conference, Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s on Wednesday.

Construction of the first housing stock is expected to begin next February with distribution by year’s end.

The details of the MOU were revealed yesterday at a joint press conference by companies at Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s.

President and CEO of Wylde Orchid Designs and Management, Aneil Singh, said the MOA will be signed between both firms to kick start the housing developments in September.

Prime US International CEO Stephanie Bonaparte-Primus said they undertook a housing survey which showed senior citizens and single parents did not qualify for homes, while people who fell in the age bracket 18-25 were seldom provided funding to purchase a home. “In looking at these problems, we decided to develop a housing programme to assist,” she said.

Giving details about the joint partnership, Bonaparte-Primus said they had set a target to build 110,000 houses in Trinidad over a 15 to 20-year period. Tobago, she said, would benefit from 10,000 units. She said construction of these homes would bring a “solution” for the 100,000-plus HDC applicants waiting for shelter.

“Right now, based on how many houses are produced, it is not enough for the amount of people. We will cater for that crowd. We know for the next ten to 15 years that crowd should be able to get a home. This housing project would be able to have adequate buyers.”

Bonaparte-Primus said the TT$650,000 homes will be targeted primarily for low income earners. She said one bank has already assessed “the monthly mortgage rate for a TT$650,000 home at TT$2,000 over a 30-year period.” She said following a meeting they had with T&T Mortgage Finance, it was disclosed that 110,000 people had requested homes at the price of TT$850,000.

“So there is no shortage of buyers,” she said.

The businesswoman said while local contractors would benefit from these projects, 12,000 unskilled and skilled jobs are also likely to be created in the construction sector. She could not, however, give the estimated cost of the overall project since this would be based on each client’s wants and needs.

As for the land on which the homes are to be built, Bonaparte-Primus said they have been working with several local real estate companies that had already sourced land which had the necessary approvals.

“One of the main things is that we do not want to leave anyone out in this whole construction arena. All the various areas of Trinidad, we have been able to source property that persons are willing to sell to us. “ She said several major companies have already given a commitment to supply whatever building materials they need.

“We would be cutting our contracts based on the full scope and not on a part-by-part assumption,” she said.

She also admitted they have received letters of support from Royal Bank, Republic Bank, JMMB, First Citizen’s and Eastern Credit Union, while they have approached private international funding agencies, which she would reveal in the coming months.

Asked if they had approached the HDC to partner with them on this initiative, Bonaparte-Primus said they did not get an opportunity since they were engaged in talks with Wylde Orchid for support and financing in the last few months.

“So we missed that time frame. So on account of that, this is the reason why we are making the request now that someone from the ministry… can after September… when we have direct specifics on where we building, what projects, what housing…that we sit with them and negotiate with them to supply them with homes.”

Apart from housing, Bonaparte-Primus said they would also undertake an agriculture and trading initiative which would create a downstream affect and boost T&T’s flagging economy.

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