BLP chastises Govt
Opposition says housing plan not catering to low-income earners
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is chastising Government for building housing estates that low-income earners can’t afford to rent.
Shadow Minister of House and Lands Jeffrey Bostic lamented that state of affairs in a statement in which he also called on the administration to institute a comprehensive and sustainable maintenance programme within the National Housing Corporation (NHC), as a matter of urgency, to cater to the needs of the housing estates and the legitimate expectations of its tenants.
“We consistently support housing resolutions that facilitate the construction of affordable housing for Barbadians, especially those considered to be low-income earners,” he said today.
However, Bostic added: “We strongly advise against what is becoming the norm for this DLP [Democratic Labour Party] administration – that is, the construction of housing estates at costs that bear no relation to low income housing and which result in the rental fees going way beyond the reach of low-income earning Barbadians who are already struggling to make ends meet.”
His comments came against the background of Parliament on Tuesday passing a resolution to approve the vesting of a parcel of land at “Rosemont”, Deacons Road, St Michael in the NHC. The resolution would provide for tenants in that St Michael district, who have been paying rent for 20 years or more, to become homeowners.
In the absence of Opposition MPs from that debate in the House of Assembly, members on the Government side accused the BLP of not supporting the administration’s efforts to transfer ownership of housing units free of cost. They contended that when the DLP came to office the previous administration was in the process of collecting money from tenants who wanted to acquire the houses.
“The ability of longstanding tenants to own the NHC rented apartments is a progressive step which was initiated by the last Barbados Labour Party administration and therefore we now endorse [it],” he said. However, he said the BLP was “deeply concerned at the lethargic manner in which the Government is dealing with the distribution of conveyances to the hundreds of longstanding tenants who are eagerly awaiting the official documentation which guarantees ownership of their apartments”.
Bostic said while that process was ongoing, maintenance issues relating to the same properties were worsening at an alarming rate.
“We call on the Minister of Housing to institute a comprehensive and sustainable maintenance programme within the NHC, as a matter of urgency, to cater to the needs of its housing estates and the legitimate expectations of its tenants,” the Opposition MP said.
He added that the execution of the progamme would require collaboration and cooperation among the prospective homeowners and suggested that would be best achieved by the homeowners and tenants forming associations to deal with common issues.
“In this regard, we encourage the NHC to assist in having this implemented across its housing estates,” Bostic said.