Cooper says the govt’s proposed housing policy ‘unfair, elitist and discriminatory’


PLP deputy leader Chester Cooper. Photo: Terrel W Carey Sr/Tribune Staff



EXUMA and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper says while the Progressive Liberal Party supports homeownership for young professionals, he thinks the Minnis administration’s policy in this area is “unfair, elitist" and “discriminatory".

He said the government is selling a dream about its proposed housing initiative. His remarks came Monday in the House of Assembly during the debate on a resolution to allow for the development of a residential community in western New Providence geared towards young professionals. The resolution was passed in the House of Assembly and will be debated in the Senate on Thursday.

The subdivision is to be built on 83 acres of land in the Prospect Ridge/John F Kennedy Drive area. The government is promising a total of 250 lots, with 40 percent being multi-family lots at $50,000 and the remaining 60 percent are to be single-family lots offered at $40,000.

Mr Cooper, deputy leader of the Progressive Liberal Party, said, “Let me say at the outset, that I support the idea of making housing more affordable for young people and people in general. This is also an ideal the PLP supports. How one administration goes about it may differ from the other, but all administrations have tried to help more Bahamians get into homes.

“I do believe that the current administration’s policy of not building homes but mainly providing service lots for people to build their own homes is wrongheaded at this time. But any genuine effort to realistically support Bahamians getting into homes is one that I support. However, we think your policy is unfair, elitist and, frankly, discriminatory.”

Mr Cooper noted that propelling Bahamians towards easier homeownership is not unique to the FNM government and pointed out that every administration has its own way of doing it.

As a reminder to parliamentarians, Mr Cooper said, “The PLP founded the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation and has tried for over five decades to increase home ownership among Bahamians, particularly those who struggle with the means to become homeowners.

“Housing security and housing affordability are ideas that are near universal in governance in The Bahamas. But these are your policies, so carry on smartly. We do not think it’s a rational, credible policy. It's electioneering, so let’s just call it for what it is. I believe it is unrealistic and fraught with problems.”

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, while introducing the resolution to Parliament, said the lots will be worth some $150,000 once his government has put the infrastructure for the area in place. Pointing out that the applicants do not have to be at a certain social status, he said one does not have to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer to qualify for the land, just someone who is "accomplished" in their field.

On this Mr Cooper said, “Now about this, I do not share the Prime Minister’s view. Banks look at lower of costs and appraised value. I also worry about how much government funds it will take to make these lots liveable. Asking some in the industry, I get anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000 per lot to make them serviceable. That could mean more than $5 million on the part of the government just on that alone.

“As far as not needing a down payment for a mortgage because of the value of the property, I don’t know about that either. I work in the finance sector and I know that when determining who to lend money to, there is one thing that is paramount above all, and that’s skin in the game. Then there is the ability to finance the loan. It does not matter how much the property is worth, particularly with banks already being liquid and already being saddled with foreclosed homes and unfinished homes, customers who today cannot make existing payments.”

Mr Cooper, a businessman, dissected the proposed housing development, questioning whether anyone really sat down and seriously thought it out, rather than forcing it because of a political agenda with time running out.

He continued: “Again, let’s call this what this is. This is clearly an effort to appeal to the largest voting bloc in the country, without actually doing something broadly impactful for the largest voting bloc in the country.

“It is using what will clearly be millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to implement a programme that is exclusionary, discriminatory, elitist, unfair and fantastical. I fear you are selling dreams. Like many of your other half-baked schemes.

“It is exclusionary in that it automatically and intentionally boxes out of eligibility those who are over the age of 45 from participation, and also uses taxpayer funds drawn from the widest pool of Bahamians to make an exclusive community for a certain number of Bahamians to create income-producing properties that will only benefit a few.”

Mr Cooper said he feels the scheme is discriminatory because most will not qualify.


DreamerX 2 years, 7 months ago

It is in fact discriminatory. However, this class of professional is the brain drain that we are facing as a country. The best of the best, leave as fast as they can once the few prime positions are taken up.

This won't fully reverse brain drain because net salary gain over time is still more profitable in USA/CANADA.

Did he also go against the discriminatory nature of other programs that had a specified demographic? Or is he simply using this as a way to play class warfare?

I would also like to see his presentation on the success of the Mortgage Corp. and if he will stick his name to that performance, then so be it.

Edit: No financial statements are available on the official website and only news I've seen recently is 100m Bond that isn't able to be paid back by the organization.


bahamianson 2 years, 7 months ago

Such an oppotunist. Stop playing politics. For 60 years we had low cost house for people whom could afford it. For one year a government implements house for middle class people and people are bitchin.listen, this country is for everyone. Everyone needs to benefit. I dont go to work and bust my farse so someone can sit under a tree and wait for government handouts hhat they taxed me for. It is about time the middle class benefited!


birdiestrachan 2 years, 7 months ago

Mr: Cooper called it correct. "Unfair, elitist and frankly discriminatory. What is the difference?? It is the same as telling a black man he can not buy property where a white man lives.

The PM changed his social status theme he was calling it upper class or something to that effect. At the same time, he talks about his Bains Town roots.

What do people not know that the PM and his announcement is all about politics it is not Sunday school..


newcitizen 2 years, 7 months ago

The PLP solution is to just subsidize people buying swamp land from Frankie the Snake.


Emilio26 2 years, 7 months ago

newcitizen actually government subdivisions that were built by past PLP administrations have faults and majors errors like severe flooding and dump fires.


themessenger 2 years, 7 months ago

@Emilio26, you are correct and to add insult to injury lets not forget how one particular government official involved with housing was charging $5,000 per house, might have been for shingles, shame!!


birdiestrachan 2 years, 7 months ago

The PM calls the development upscale. UPSCALE means appealing to affluent consumers of a superior quality.


themessenger 2 years, 7 months ago

How typical of Cooper and the PLP, provide the land, build the house and decide what furniture to install. Keep the people dependent by continuing to give them fish instead of making them independent by teaching them how to fish. Let’s not even get into the PLP housing projects of the past, the government ministers and appointed contractors who stole millions from the public purse constructing homes worth a fraction of what they charged for them.


AGITATE 2 years, 7 months ago

Mr Copper you are in touch with the Bahamain conscience. (Excellent). A political plan by Rt Hon Prime Minister Minnis that can exclude many young qualified bahamians from having a piece of the Bahamian pie. This land belongs to the people of the Bahamas, people who pay their taxes and does not belong to the PLP or the FNM. I am very sad that a opportunity of a lifetime may again slip through the fingers of young Bahamians, many of the mothers,fathers, uncles, aunts, family and friends sacrificed their money to educate these children hoping that when they return home they will be able to work and receive a decent salary. Many times there was no work and our young people had sought jobs in other countries to pay off their education loans. These young people love their country and is longing to come back home, the Prime Minister said that only persons who are resident and working in the bahamas must apply. This is a stab in the back. All my life i have seen foreigners buy land and build all over the Bahamas who never set foot in the Bahamas, and now you exclude you own Bahamian sons and daughters . (Unbelievable)


IAmOne 2 years, 7 months ago

Mr, Cooper I usually agree with you on sensible economic issues. However, I disagree with you on his. Most of the ‘young professionals’ are first generation college graduates of ‘poor’ Bahamians. Or hard workers who have sacrificed to achieve their certifications.They have worked hard, and their parents have sacrificed plenty. Why is it so hard to understand they too deserve to benefit from government invectives and subsidies, especially when the truly rich get away with ‘murder’ in this country? Please rethink your stance. These are young, educated, hardworking Bahamians we want to keep home at stake.


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