BRADES – The Housing Unit in the Government of Montserrat has provisionally approved 62 applications for grants under the new Housing Investment Programme.
Hon. Minister of Housing Claude Hogan confirmed that 102 applications were received but only 62 could be covered under the current scheme which has a budget of two million Eastern Caribbean dollars.
The vision behind the programme is the need to “retain a viable working population for socio-economic development and sustainability,” said a statement from the Housing Unit.
The need for more affordable housing on Montserrat continues to increase and the department said more than 500 households are awaiting a “permanent solution for an extended period (almost 20 years), due to the low supply.”
Hogan explained that the decline in the housing market output has impacted negatively on the economy. “Employment opportunities within the construction industry have been significantly reduced and in effect have negatively impeded economic activity which stems from this sector. The construction industry is vital to the island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), hence the need to provide an economic stimulus to revive this very important sector.”
Under the government’s Housing Investment Programme aimed at improving the number and standard of habitable dwellings on island, conditional grants ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 covering approximately 62 eligible households have been approved. This would enable them to construct, complete or improve their dwelling houses.
The programme will be implemented and managed by the Montserrat Land Development Authority on behalf of the Government. It is anticipated that Housing Investment Programme would boost economic activity on island and create new jobs within the construction industry and impact positively on the island’s GDP.
The four components of the Programme consist of:
1. Financial Assistance Grant – designed to promote the spread of homeownership. It involves the provision of a conditional grant in the amount of EC$40,000, to assist qualified households in constructing a decent permanent home. It will target persons who based on their financial ability can acquire mortgage financing. The disbursement of these funds will be paid directly to the Financial Institution from which the mortgage will be secured.
2. Materials Grant Assistance – to assist persons to benefit from materials grant assistance not exceeding EC$40,000, coupled with mortgage finance or their own financial/human resource to construct their own private dwelling houses. The materials grant assistance scheme has proven to be highly successful and popular. One of the strengths of the materials grant scheme is its effectiveness in providing private accommodation rapidly, with an average construction time of four
(4) to six (6) months. Despite the challenges in the past, this has been one of the most successful housing schemes.
3. Home Finishing Grant – Since the onset of the volcanic activity, many households have been struggling to acquire and/or complete permanent homes. Some households are burdened by financial commitments, which include loan/mortgages repayment and/or exorbitant rent payments for private accommodation. To this end, Government would like to offer assistance to household that are unable to bring their homes to a completion stage with a grant of materials and/or labour not exceeding EC$25,000, to finish their dwelling house, that is under construction and near completion.
4. Home Improvement Grant – The Government recognizes that every citizen of Montserrat has the right to adequate housing. Therefore, as part of the National Housing Strategy – Vision 2010, Government proposes to provide some assistance to vulnerable households to bring their dwelling up to a minimum decent standard for human habitation. The assistance makes provision for household to receive funds not exceeding EC$10,000, for the purpose of carrying out essential repair/refurbishment. This will allow them to have access to adequate housing which helps to promote health, well-being and security.