By Shikema Dey
Emotions ran high on Monday when 1,000 persons received their house lots as the Ministry of Housing and Water presses forward with its ‘Dream Realised’ initiative.
During the two-day exercise being held at the National Stadium at Providence, East Bank Demerara, some 334 persons will receive their land titles as well.
The project is part and parcel of the governing administration’s goal of ensuring that 50,000 Guyanese become the owner of their own home in five years.
Lawrence Crawford was the first to receive his land title.
“The wait is finally over,” he said. He has been waiting for his land title for more than 10 years and had even given up hope of receiving it, until now.
“The run around was stiff and I end up getting fed up, but now I can say that I have my own land.”
Tracy Perry was moved to tears upon receiving her house lot.
The 54-year-old mother of three rejoiced as she too was waiting for more than 10 years to own her own plot of land.
“Every time I would go to them [Housing Ministry] they would say they do not have anything, they have no land and it became frustrating because Guyana has more than 80,000 square miles, more land more than people and I have to wait this long but I had to wait on the right time,” the woman recounted in tears.
Also on the receiving end was 45-year-old Mala Khan, a single parent, and mother of four.
According to her, she has been paying G$40,000 in rent per month for the past six years.
Now that money will go towards building a brand new home for she and her children.
Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, at the opening ceremony, remarked that the initiative aims to put a small dent in the backlog for house lot applications, especially for Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) as it is one with the largest demand for housing.
Currently, the Region, the Minister explained, has a backlog of 42,000 applications with a major share of that figure being applicants for low-income housing.
With that in mind, the Minister said that the house lots being distributed are specially tailored to suit the needs of low-income families.
With the costs being heavily subsidised by the government, the receiving applicants would only pay G$250,000 per house lot and this is said to be far below normal market prices.
“Low-income housing for citizens is a pillar of development that is representative of the commitment of our government to bettering the lives of all Guyanese, so I am extremely proud to be handing out these allocations today,” Minister Croal said.
With the housing project positioned on the East Bank hub, he added that the area will be complete with roads, drains, culverts, access bridges, and a water distribution network as well as other accessories such as social and safety facilities.
But the development will not stop there as the East Bank corridor is currently undergoing a massive transformation at a cost of G$10 billion to make life easier for residents, Minister Croal continued.
Further, the Minister implored the new land owners to waste no time in starting construction, as a number of banks and lending agencies are on-site to provide financial assistance and guidance.
Meanwhile, Susan Rodrigues, Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, in her address, stated that though the drive is aimed at providing house lots, the underlying point is to promote homeownership among those in the lower-income bracket.
“We are always here to support the working class and we are always here to ensure that our policies are pro-poor and always support those vulnerable communities and those who need it the most,” she said.
Thus far, over 1,000 land titles have been distributed, and by August 2, when the government marks its first year in office, the Housing Ministry expects to distribute another 6,000 house lots to Guyanese.