BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, NOVEMBER 20th, 2016 (PRESS SEC) — Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris told the audience during his well-attended Constituency #7 meeting in Lodge Project on Sunday, November 13th, 2016 that his 21-month-old Team Unity administration is focused on bringing further progress to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis by, for instance, delivering more housing at an increasingly affordable cost.
“We are delivering for the people of the country,” Prime Minister Harris, the Parliamentary Representative for Belle Vue to Ottley’s, said last Sunday, noting that, “Yesterday [Saturday, November 12th], it was a distinct pleasure for me to go through the Ottley’s community, doing house-to-house visits, and one of the projects we entered into was the one at the right of The Grange [Nursing Home & Healthcare Facility]. My heart was made glad as we went from house to house.”
This year, the Team Unity administration finished and distributed 84 homes in partnership with the National Housing Corporation (N.H.C.): 19 in the Lodge/Ottley’s area, 27 at Green Acres in Halfway Tree, 28 at Pine Gardens in Shadwell, five in Buckley’s and five in Taylor’s Village.
Before moving into those homes, each occupant family paid for the connection of electricity and water. They also paid a legal fee of $600.00, to facilitate both the establishment of a legal mortgage and the transfer of the land from N.H.C. to each of them. “The insurance should be approximately $150.00 monthly, which is added to the mortgage payment, as it is mandatory,” Mrs. Elretha Simpson-Browne, the General Manager of the National Housing Corporation, told the Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday, November 16th.
Importantly, an income-based repayment plan has been set up for N.H.C. mortgagors, meaning that interest rates are now tiered based on their household income.
“After an outcry by homeowners, it [the income-based repayment plan] is something that was instituted under the Team Unity Government, so that we have a fairer system,” the General Manager of the National Housing Corporation added, also noting that, “Interest was reduced from 8% and 7% to 6% and 5% across the board by the previous administration.”
Under the Team Unity administration, there is now a fairer income-based repayment plan, with persons who earn under $3,500.00 per month paying a 2% interest rate, persons who earn between $3,500.00 and $5,000.00 per month paying a 3% interest rate, and persons who earn over $5,000.00 per month paying a 5% interest rate on a maximum 30-year mortgage.
Dr. Harris added at last Sunday’s constituency meeting that, “The progress that this Team Unity Government has brought has been progress for the ordinary people of St. Kitts and Nevis. We are working for you, and there are still more people to get their homes. So we have to speed up the housing program next year.”
Under the new program, approximately 300 homes are to be built throughout St. Kitts, around 80 percent of which will be for persons who would like N.H.C. to assist them with building a house on land that they already own, the N.H.C. General Manager said. Mrs. Simpson-Browne added that the construction of eight homes has already been started in Constituency #8 under this new program, and six homes in Constituency #7 are to break ground shortly.
The full program will be rolled out in January 2017, aided by a loan secured from the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board. The St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board has approved a $50 million loan to the Federal Government for housing development in St. Kitts via the National Housing Corporation and a $10 million loan to the Nevis Island Administration for housing development in Nevis via the Nevis Housing & Land Development Corporation.
Housing is front and centre on the Team Unity Government’s Prosperity Agenda. The Post-Cabinet Briefing dated June 25th, 2016 noted that, “The Cabinet is cognizant of the positive multiplier effects, such as the creation of jobs and maintenance of economic growth, that are to be had from government spending on developing public infrastructure and other capital projects…During this week’s meetings, the Cabinet of Ministers considered the role that the soon-to-be-unveiled housing program would play in that regard. The Team Unity Government has committed $30 million for housing construction work this year. The government is also in the process of establishing a National Housing Policy aimed at boosting home ownership rates, social welfare and economic development.”
The Post-Cabinet Briefing of June 25th, 2016 also quoted Prime Minister Harris, saying that, “Cabinet committed to improving upon the public infrastructure and ensuring that deficiencies in human settlement, such as the many housing developments that had been left devoid of roads, water and electricity, will be addressed in a phased manner over the next coming months.”
On Tuesday, November 15th, Mr. Cromwell Williams, the Director of Public Works, told the Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister that, “Government intends to undertake construction of several roads in housing developments throughout the island; the initial 28 of which are estimated to cost over $65 million.”