Luck is about to strike for thousands of the 129,000 people on the housing waiting list of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) database. Come September, the Corporation is embarking on a drive entitled-Land for the Landless. The programme is targeting the backlog on the waiting list as 80 per cent of the empty housing units are currently under repair because of initial slipshod work. Cabinet recently approved HDC's return to a land use policy. The policy was introduced by the United National Congress but halted by the People's National Movement administration.
This time, however, applicants will be given a foundation base to their homes. Successful applicants will now have the opportunity to design their own homes within the required guidelines. In addition, applicants will be afforded the opportunity to decide whether they want to construct two or three-bedroom houses and the choice of material. The initiative, Housing and Environment Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said, is two-fold and aimed at reducing the backlog of people on the waiting list and those desirous of owning a parcel of land. The foundation for the houses will include-flooring, toilet/bath facilities, plumbing and infrastructure for the sewer.
"Allowing people to construct their own homes gives them the opportunity to become independent. We are looking at options to avoid applicants from being in debt for the next 25 to 30 years. We would provide applicants with a foundation so they can build but it must be within certain parameters. "They would be able to decide whether they want to use wood or concrete, the type of roof and ceiling but we are very clear on the size of the unit and indoor facilities," the minister said. While the cost of the lands is still being determined, the minister assured that it will be affordable to all.
HDC promises 10,000 to benefit annually
Moonilal said as many as 10,000 applicants are expected to benefit from the programme annually.
"It would work together with the Land Settlement Agency (LSA). Between the LSA and HDC we would have two dynamic land distribution programmes running parallel. We are looking at within one year to provide as much as 10,000 plots for housing if we use both LSA and HDC." However, the minister warned, while the Corporation was allowing the applicants the opportunity to build/design their homes, the riot act will be read to those bent on breaking the rules. "The policy is clear: the programme we are about to embark on is strictly for housing. The lands are not to be used for agriculture, to open a parlour or a disco. Anyone caught in violation would be dealt with accordingly," the minister warned. Meanwhile, Moonilal said, HDC is also set to embark on another drive in which the Corporation will be engaging with the private sector to provide additional housing.