The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has begun to distribute the 170 units at its highly subsidised housing estates in Adventure, Blenheim and Castara in Tobago.
In its first phase of distribution, 20 families received keys to their dream house at Blenheim on Monday, followed by 28 families in Castara on Wednesday and 35 in Adventure on Friday.
The highest market value of a three bedroom unit and land at Blenheim is $585,000 and the lowest market value of a two bedroom unit is $335,000. However, the units are highly subsidised by the THA resulting in they being sold for $410,000 and $177,000.
At Castara the highest market value of a three bedroom unit is $535,000 and a two-bedroom unit is $322,000. However, the THA subsidy has brought down the price to $292,000 and $113,000.
The market value of a three bedroom unit at Adventure is $730,000 and a two bedroom is $435,000. The THA subsidy has brought this down to $390,000 and $229,000.
The cost of the land too is being heavily subsidised at all three developments where the market value is put at $28.00 per square foot but with the subsidy it is $5.00 per square foot.
Mortgage loans to purchase the homes are being provided by the Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company Limited (TTMF).
Secretary of Settlements and Labour Whitney Alfred speaking at the Castara distribution of keys said the successful applicants could not have had a better deal and the delay in receiving their keys was worth it. He urged the recipients to take care of their houses and surroundings
He also delivered good news to the contractors on all three projects who have been owed money for up to nine months to a year, describing it as an untenable situation and promised to ensure they got paid before Christmas.
Area representative Tracy Davidson-Celestine, the Secretary of Community Development and Culture told her listeners that she had visited several Caribbean islands and none of them had government housing developments, a sentiment later echoed by Chief Secretary Orville London in his feature address. “What we are taking for granted in Trinidad and Tobago and especially in Tobago, many islands in the region and many countries in the world cannot even dream of it,” he said.
Mr. London said the THA was prepared to give subsidised housing to people who cannot afford it and he didn’t know of many places in the world except maybe in some communist and socialist countries where that happens. “We therefore have to understand and be able to appreciate that and we got to recognise that you have got to assist in collaborating with us, we have to continue doing it because the resources of the Assembly, like any government, those resources are limited and therefore there is only so much we can do for so many people in a particular period of time.”
He said the Assembly was looking at other ways to provide affordable housing solutions and appealed to the people to work with the Assembly on this.