The Ministry of Housing and Water aims to remove the need for Guyanese to squat and instead enable them to own their own homes and on Sunday, 25 Guyanese signed contracts that will enable them to benefit from free housing units.
These units are being provided through the Adequate Housing and Urban Accessibility Programme of the ministry. Each house costs approximately $4 million and another 25 of these core homes will be distributed later.
As part of the programme also, another 118 residents from La Parfaite Harmonie, on the West Bank of Demerara (WBD), will each get a $500,000 housing subsidy to improve their houses.
Vanessa Lewis, a 49-year-old mother of three, with two grandchildren in her care, is one person who will benefit from a core home in La Parfaite Harmonie. Her youngest grandchild will start nursery school from September.
The woman was able to sign her contract for this core home on Sunday afternoon at the La Parfaite Harmonie primary school.
She told the News Room that she earns a living by making “pointer brooms” and cleaning people’s houses. She is a single parent living in a tiny house.
“Everything deh in one. A blind [curtain] separating the kitchen from the room (and) me ain’t get toilet and bathroom,” she said, describing her current place of residence.
She was able to qualify for one of the ministry’s core homes and in about three months’ time, she would be able to occupy the new house.
“Atleast I go deh better cause (right now) is only one bed I got,” Lewis said, adding, “At least I gon have two bedrooms and I gon put two beds.
“The children gon deh more better and I gon deh more better, cause I gon get a kitchen and so,” she said happily.
Speaking before the contract signing on Sunday, Minister of Housing and Water Collin Croal said that this programme is only one of the many initiatives being rolled out to meet the sizable housing demand in Guyana.
Importantly, though, he emphasised, “With the plans and programmes we have as a government, there is absolutely no need for any form or shape of squatting.”
According to him, the ministry is not only working to remove the backlog of housing applications and distribute house lots, even in new areas.
In fact, he also highlighted that the ministry is working on a comprehensive plan to provide housing units and develop the necessary housing infrastructure- such as constructing roads and providing utilities like electricity and water.
He announced that $900 million will be spent on upgrading the roads in the Parfaite Harmonie scheme and a multipurpose facility will soon be constructed there. Further along the West Coast of Demerara (WCD), another 100 houses are expected to be constructed, too.
Meanwhile, the Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water Susan Rodrigues said that the underpinning drive of the ministry, and the government, is to improve the quality of life of Guyanese.
And, according to her, attention must be given to creating value for real people instead of focusing only on the ‘numbers’.
Cherril Simon and Maurice Cato, an elderly couple who have been married for 32 years, wwould also benefit from the ministry’s aim to improve the quality of life of citizens.
They already have their own home and have been living in La Parfaite Harmonie since 2005. Simon, Cato’s wife, recalls moving into the community around the time of the ‘Great Flood’.
“I build that home with my bare hands… but I couldn’t finish it because I got blind about eight years now,” Cato told the News Room on Sunday.
Cato said that much work is needed to improve his living quarters; his ceiling needs fixing, and he has no electricity.
And, as one of the 118 inidivudals who received the $500,000 home improvment subsidy on Sunday, Cato said that he and his wife will be able to do several renovations on their house.
Through this home improvement subsidy, the ministry will be collaborating with few contractors to provide housing materials that must be used within six weeks of delivery.
Generally, the Adequate Housing and Urban Accessibility Programme was designed to improve housing conditions and access to critical infrastructure, enhance mobility and safety, and strengthen the capacity to operate and maintain urban services.