Charlestown Nevis (March 15, 2007)
Minister of Housing and Lands in the Nevis Island Administration, the Hon. Robelto Hector said recently that housing development partnerships were important and government’s would have to play a major role in the provision of affordable housing.
Minister Hector made the comment during an interview with the Department of Information late last week on his return from Barbados where he attended a workshop on housing policies within the Caribbean. Other ministers of housing, and representatives of the housing sectors of St. Kitts, Antigua and other Eastern Caribbean islands also attended the workshop.
He said that during the two day workshop participants were able to discuss policies and to share each other’s experiences.“Case studies were presented from the islands of Jamaica, Trinidad, Bahamas, Suriname and Guyana. The workshop was indeed of benefit to me, as it outlined the challenges faced by other Caribbean countries and gave information on how we could direct our policies, to ensure that our social housing programme is indeed effective and is of maximum benefit to our society.
“We were able to glean a lot from this workshop particularly in terms of the new direction of partnerships. It is now the thinking that particularly in housing development, partnerships are important. For instance, the low-income housing program, only government can take part in this programme. The developers are normally attracted to development with a very wide profit margin, government on the other hand, must have a housing program that is in keeping with its social policy and as such, that section of the community for affordable housing, is one that we would all agree government would have to take a very serious role in, thus providing housing for the lower income bracket,” he said.
The Minister of Housing and Lands indicated that one of things he considered during the workshop was the fact that some people on Nevis were not positioned to own land and therefore he was able to look at what some of the other countries did when implementing their housing programs.
“They gave titles to those people, but at the same time, it is a way in which they also place a caveat on it that it cannot be sold so that government would benefit. Another country has a programme in which they are saying government has the first option to buy the property upon the death of that individual who they would have assisted”, the minister said.
Mr. Hector said that “some of the people whom government provide housing, it [government] wants to ensure that when it makes this contribution it is not devised in a will to someone else and the investment that government makes is just lost. I think that in this way I ws able to see an opportunity for government to protect its interest particularly as we promote our social housing program” he said.
The workshop was sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) ad the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). Both institutions have demonstrated a positive outlook on the housing issue within the Caribbean, creating an awareness of the challenges faced in directing the housing policies within the Caribbean.
The workshop was a follow-up to a housing policy workshop that was held in Jamaica following which it was suggested that politicians be invited to take a closer examination of the challenges of housing and housing polices faced within the region.