By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government has identified buyers for all of its low-cost lots on sale in Sunset Close, according to press secretary Anthony Newbold.
Mr Newbold’s statement was a rebuttal of sorts to claims by Environment and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira last week that the housing programme is being underused, with only nine of 60 applicants qualifying for the programme so far.
According to Mr Newbold, the ten lots in Sunset Close are the only ones that have been made available to prospective home-owners and as of yesterday, all of those lots have been sold.
“When the minister spoke about it, a lot of the applications that were seen at that point were people who hadn’t qualified,” Mr Newbold said. “Sunset Close, ten service lots (were offered). As of today I can tell you they are all taken. In fact, they are oversubscribed by as much as four to five times.”
Mr Ferriera had said last week that the low qualification numbers were because too many Bahamians have been seduced over the years by the predatory habits of lending institutions.
Mr Newbold said yesterday: “The concern is always for the Bahamian people to have their financial house in order but in terms of the service lots initiative, no, (Sunset) Close, the first phase, ten lots, they’re all taken. The next phase will be the Lionel Davis in Fox Hill, that’s another ten lots. From my information there are some people who have applied for these lots who could qualify for as much as $100,000. So there is concern only in so far that Bahamians in general get their financial houses in order and that we are making the best use of the monies we have available to us.”
The housing initiative was launched seven weeks ago. Currently, only people in the uninformed services can apply for the lots, the cost of which in some instances have been as low as $15,000.
As many as 150 lots will be available in Carmichael Village though that part of the programme is still in its design phase. Lionel Davis Estates is expected to provide an additional ten lots.
Shoddy workmanship by contractors in the past is the chief reason the government is offering the lots to Bahamians as opposed to offering them property with houses already constructed.
Mr Ferreira said last week: “Shoddy workmanship, that is like the number one concern even today 10 to 15 years after homes have been constructed the government still has the responsibility of going back and repairing these homes because of the contractual relationship is between the homeowner and the government. The homeowner in many instances has abdicated even simple repairs like fixing a leaking pipe under the sink to the government.
“So the government is saying look we will provide you with this lot, it’s worth between $80,000 to $100,000 so you automatically get $80,000 to $60,000 worth of equity, and then you have that contractual relationship between yourself and the contractor of your choice.”
He added: “We’re taking ourselves out of the equation, the Department of Housing is repairing homes that were constructed many, many years ago and it’s an unfair burden to the Bahamian taxpayer.”