Hundreds of squatters relocated, compensation provided where needed – Housing Minister

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Minister of Housing and Water Collin Coral Friday responded to the Opposition calls for the government to be clear on its plan for addressing squatting and the wider development of housing, saying that there was more than a plan in place.

Croal is one of the final speakers during the ongoing budget debates and said the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), since coming to office in 2020, has already put in place the “Guyana Strategy for Informal Settlement Upgrading.”

That plan, he said, also ties into the government’s comprehensive housing programme which is well underway.

According to Croal, the interventions to date has been “targeted and impactful.”

He said some 750 informal settlers in Region Four and Five have already been relocated and another 59 persons who were squatting on government reserves have been provided with lands for housing.

“In some instances, where it was necessary, we even compensated,” he told the National Assembly.

The Housing and Water Minister touched particularly on Herstelling along the East Bank of Demerara, saying that scores of squatters in flood-prone areas there have been relocated and have begun construction of their homes in new areas.

Contrasting that against the APNU+AFC term in office, the Housing Minister said the coalition now criticises the government’s housing programme when they only relocated 20 families from Broad Street, Georgetown in five years.

He said the APNU+AFC also failed to open new housing areas and get other road works off the ground that would allow for new lands for housing to be developed.

“If I speak of the entire housing sector and the intervention, we have done then we will be here all afternoon,” Croal added.

According to the 2022 budget presentation, the government is well on track to achieve its target of providing 50,000 house lots by 2025.

Since the PPP/C Government took office in August 2020, a total of 10,063 house lots were allocated to persons while 1,266 land titles and transports were distributed in 2021 with plans to target 6,000 applicants in 2022.

In support of low-income households, 50 houses were constructed at Prospect in 2021 and, in 2022, the government will construct 100 core homes at La Parfaite Harmonie and Sophia Housing Areas with an additional 125 core homes to be constructed in areas to be identified.

Additionally, with a total of 228 home improvement subsidies distributed in 2021 to the value of $114 million, another 1,000 subsidies will be disbursed in 2022.

For moderate-income earners, 133 homes were constructed at Cummings Lodge, Onderneeming and Amelia’s Ward, as well as 100 houses for young professionals at Providence.

In 2022, $12.4 billion is allocated for the housing sector to continue infrastructure works in housing areas, which include the upgrading of 45.5 km of roads in 31 existing housing areas across Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10, as well as the construction of drains, structures and the installation of LED street lamps.

Additionally, the government aims to complete the construction of the electricity distribution networks in the existing housing areas, and also to complete the procurement of electrical hardware for new housing areas.

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