by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Labour Administration is trying to launch another housing revolution in St. Kitts and Nevis with the recent announcement of 2,400 affordable smart homes to be built.
News of the development first broke in a Trinidad and Tobago newspaper on May 3 as the developer is a Trinidadian housing development company, East Coast Housing Development Ltd.
Housing Minister, Hon. Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, during a national address, said that East Coast Housing Development Ltd sourced the financing for the development project through multiple banking institutions.
Many citizens have asked questions about the housing development, including the development financing, the homes’ pricing and the properties’ size.
“What is the size of the property? What is the size of the land on which these houses are being built? And what is the size of the house itself? After all, one of the challenges we had in the past has been that people are given homes that give very limited opportunity for later expansion. We’re also faced with the fact that we’re only 68 square miles, and we know that our populous is going to continue to increase… So we have to think that 50 years from now, we’ll still be having to build new homes. The time will come when, instead of simply going out, we would have to go upwards in order to provide new homes for the population. We have to balance those two things. How much land can we afford on which to give someone a home that they could have a backyard garden etc.? But at the same time, think down the road; we’re not building homes for the next five or ten years. But we have to provide homes for the next 50 and 100 years.” – said Accountant and social commentator Schneidman Warner during the May 8 broadcast of WINN’s Island Tea.
The announcement made by the Minister indicated that there is an option for people who already own or are paying for plots of land to have one of the 2,400 homes built where applicable or apply for housing built on state-owned land.
A caller to the Island Tea program raised questions about the longevity of the low-interest-rate mortgages from local banks promised by the government when considering the interest rate stance made by Central Banks around the world to combat high inflation.
“The lending rate is usually 11 [per cent] like Development Bank, and you say, well, look, give them at least five. Any shortfall Development Bank has, the government has to subsidise it. How long can the commercial banks carry a low-interest rate when internationally, rates are going up? It is the Central Bank that has the say, you know, over the lending rate, not the government.”
As the country awaits more information on the housing development, some other questions remain unanswered as it relates to who qualifies for the houses, can people opt out of specific offerings of the development, and whether there would be any consideration for those who are above the requirements for low-income housing but just below what is necessary for a mortgage from commercial banks.