Contract Signed for Social Housing
On Tuesday, March 6th, 2018, contractor David Tuitt of DarJav INC. signed contracts to construct four emergency social houses, one in Lookout and
three in Davy Hill. Over two years ago, the homes of at least two of the beneficiaries were demolished in preparation for construction.
Currently, there are 290 persons on the Waiting List for social houses many of whom have been displaced by the 1995 volcanic eruptions. This DFID-funded Social Housing Project – Phase 1, targets the delivery of seven houses to those in critical need.
The award of contract for the construction of four two-bedroom houses signals hope, as negotiations continue for the remaining 40 households on the Waiting List, for solutions under the New Direct Build Housing Project. The Permanent Secretary (Ag), Mrs. Eulyn Silcott-Greaves, in her remarks at the Contract Signing Ceremony gave an overview of the housing needs in Montserrat. Mrs. Silcott-Greaves noted that these households are vulnerable based on their age, employment status and total household income. On the Waiting List are 10 applicants who own land and are seeking assistance to build a house at full cost to Government, the vulnerability indicators for this subgrouping reveal: their average age is 57 years and average monthly income is EC$1,872.83 with average household size of three. In addition, there are 34 applicants for social rented housing and their average age is 45 years with average household income of EC$1,397.61. These statistics underscore the need for Government’s continued intervention to improve access to decent and affordable housing.
The journey to this milestone has been punctuated with challenges and many lessons have been learnt along the way. Through effective communication and partnership working, we have been able to reach the implementation phase of this construction project. We have had to address several administrative hurdles, mainly securing approval of the designs and empowering the Project Steering Committee. The Project Steering Committee is comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the Public Works Department and the Ministry with responsibility for housing.
After several versions, we have agreed upon a design that is earthquake and hurricane resilient.
Senior Architect for the Government of Montserrat, Linda Dias, in her remarks at the Contract Signing Ceremony, noted that these houses are being built above the specifications and standards, of Montserrat’s current building codes, in an effort to ensure, that the houses are earthquake and hurricane resilient.
Honourable Minister with responsibility for housing, David Osborne, shared some of the challenges that he encountered during his quest to reach this stage of project implementation. Minister Osborne gave this project his full support and with determination was able to negotiate the way forward with buy-in from DFID. In his brief remarks, Minister Osborne, who took office in September of 2017, applauded the efforts of his “A Team” and gave commendations to the Architecture Division of the Ministry of Communications, Works, Labour and Energy, for their hard work and dedication in ensuring the success of the project. Minister Osborne said that notwithstanding the challenges he encountered, he was determined to deliver the houses to the people, who have been waiting for over four years to be adequately housed, therefore he could not lose focus.
Manager of the Land Development Authority (LDA), Franklyn Greenaway, confirmed Minister Osborne’s passion to get the houses done and said that in his first meeting with him in September of 2017, Minister Osborne made it clear that his priority was to ensure that the houses were built and in a timely manner.
Local Representative for DFID, Ms. Moira Marshall, was present at the ceremony and applauded the accomplishment, indicating that the momentous occasion was a Government of Montserrat effort and that DFID is pleased to be a part of it. Minister Osborne told Mrs. Marshall, that she should expect more proposals from his Ministry, for housing, especially since Montserrat continues to face many critical housing needs, which must be met.
Contractor David Tuitt commended the efforts of Minster Osborne, stating that the implementation of continuous housing projects, will prove beneficial to not only him, but to the people of Montserrat, especially since well needed jobs will be provided.
In closing, Minister Osborne affirmed his commitment to improve the living conditions of the ‘his’ people, and pledged to advance the construction of new houses as well as provide support to improve and upgrade the existing housing stock as he leads his ministry to fulfil his government’s promise of job creation and “putting people first”.