The Ministry of Communities, particularly the Department of Housing, through its Housing Solutions initiative is exploring a site to build very low cost wooden houses to accommodate squatters firstly in central Georgetown particularly areas such as Sophia and East and West Ruimveldt among others.
The building of these wooden houses, Minister Patterson said, would involve an element of self-help. She informed media operatives today ( Tuesday January 10, 2017) that some squatters have legitimate house lots and have rented the structures on those lands, while they continue to squat.
The Minister made it clear that following investigations by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) these squatters would be removed, but not before an alternative is provided.
The Minister pointed to environmental issues posed by squatters who continue to block dams and prevent the canals from being cleaned. Latrines being built over water ways that are also used for household purposes was another sore point highlighted.
The Minister when asked where these squatters would be relocated to, said that the location was only identified on Monday following a meeting with Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan and other officials. She informed that surveyors and planners would now have to visit that area and make the necessary recommendations before any decision could be made.
With respect to new communities, Minister Patterson said these will offer a range of housing solutions such as “rent-to-own apartments, two-bedroom and three-bedroom houses to cater for the needs of low, moderate and middle income persons.”
Notably, the construction of the wooden houses is part of the strategy in keeping with the Government’s plan of pursuing the path of a ‘green economy’ and boosting the local materials industry.
It is envisaged, the Minister noted that the implementation of the various housing solutions will be achieved through partnerships with the private sector.
Further, 21 areas would be regularized this year and existing housing areas would be consolidated.
The consolidation of areas will not only focus on investment in physical infrastructure, “but revitalization of programmes that include social services and community development projects in keeping with the commitment to create wholesome and cohesive communities,” the minister noted.
Minister Patterson disclosed that these proposals are part of the Government’s broader Medium Term Strategy that was presented to the Delegation of the Islamic Development Bank.
This Strategy articulated a multi-pronged approach to ensure inclusivity, proposes the following components namely the supply of 10,000 housing units to eligible Guyanese, Expansion of the current Hinterland Housing Programme to other Indigenous communities and households and lastly, Implementation of an Urban Renewal programme in the Capital City which will address the relocation and resettlement of squatters to facilitate the restoration of previously occupied sites.