The Ministry of Housing and Water, through its Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), has commenced the distribution of vouchers for the Steel and Cement Housing Subsidy, with 30 persons making up the first group to benefit from the government initiative.
Successful applicants, who are constructing homes valued at $6 million or less will receive steel and one sling of cement for the construction of their foundation, while those building homes that are valued at more than $6M but less than $25M are in line to receive two slings of cement.
The initiative was announced at last year’s building expo.
In handing out the first set of vouchers at CH&PA’s Brickdam Office, Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal said the issuance of the vouchers is another demonstration of the Government’s commitment to provide housing interventions to different categories of citizens with the ultimate aim of increasing home ownership among Guyanese.
Collectively, the 30 vouchers value approximately $10.5M, and according the Housing Minister, in the next two weeks, more than 500 vouchers will be issued.
“Today, just the 30 of you, we are seeing therefore, the possibility of the injection of over $10.5M into the economy…and over the next two weeks, if you quantify that by 500, we are talking about the injection of $175M immediately into the economy,” the Housing Minister reasoned.
Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues said the Steel and Cement Housing Subsidy Programme, which was initiated by President Irfaan Ali, is intended to help land owners commence the construction of their homes starting with the foundation.
Putting the programme into context, Minister Rodrigues explained that while the Housing Ministry has been distributing house lots, it was found that many persons, though having their own land, were unable to build.
“When we came to Office, we did an assessment, and we recognized that there was a gap in the system, and that gap is, people are able to acquire their subsidized house lot but many are still left without a home, and so, we took on the bigger task of being primarily focused on home ownership, helping people to acquire their own homes. Moving people from being renters to home owners,” Minister Rodrigues explained.
As part of the process, she said the Government has been actively engaging the commercial banks in the country with the intention of making loans more accessible. Minister Rodrigues said in addition to the reduced interest rates, which have since been achieved, the beneficiaries under the Steel and Cement Housing Programme, would become eligible for mortgage upon the completion of their foundation.
“People can acquire their house lot, and they can go to the bank and be approved for a mortgage, and base on their income, they can make a monthly installment towards a mortgage payment verses a rental payment, but equity payment was a challenge for people, that is the up front 10% equity. The lump sum that the applicant still has to find to make that initial down payment so that the bank can then make disbursements, so even after doing all of that, people still had this hurdle to cross, and so that is how this programme conceptualized, and it is to help people to get over this hurdle,” Minister Rodrigues explained.
With the foundation done, persons will no longer be required to find the 10% equity.
According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CH&PA, Sherwyn Greaves, to date, CH&PA has received 1,034 applications from potential home owners in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10, who are seeking to cash in on the programme.
However, only 697 site visits have been conducted so far by the Housing Authority, and of that amount 397 have been recommended for the subsidy. The Housing Subsidy Committee, however, has only approved 134 of the applications to date.
The CEO assured that the approval process will be fast tracked in the coming weeks, paving the way for a larger number to benefit.
The Housing Ministry has also approved a number of suppliers in the various regions, where the construction materials can be sourced at a pre-approved cost.