Castries North Member of Parliament Stephenson King has proposed two new housing initiatives to government aimed at assisting the poor population in realising their dream of owning their own homes.
King during his presentation to the 2014/15 budget debates on Friday said that for too long the poor population has been left out in the development agenda of the island.
As such, King called on government to consider a lease purchase arrangement and a private and public sector partnership for housing development.
“What is happening is that too often people would like to build their own homes, but the first burden they must cross is to get the necessary capital, to purchase land, once that is done they do not have the money to get another loan to build a house,” he stated.
King said he is not proposing that government give land people for free, but noted that they should instead use the lease hold system of being able to allow people to lease a piece of land for a number of years.
He suggested 50 to 60 years and in cases where it is necessary to have an extension that could fall between 80 to 90 years.
He said, “Once they have a lease that burden of purchasing a piece of land will be removed and will have capacity to access the loan and build a house on a lease hold property.”
Further, the Castries North MP suggested that government look at developing a public/private partnership with a reputable housing developer, to assist with providing homes at a reasonable cost to locals.
King said this will not only help with creating housing for locals, but employment opportunities.
“It is an effort to try and meet our housing needs and fulfill the needs of every Saint Lucian that may want a home for themselves,” King added.
The UWP MP said while much has been said about housing in this year’s budget, the new initiatives he proposed could assist to stimulate growth in the sector.
“I am of the view that as a nation we need to be mindful of the less fortunate and cater for them, I speak of the underprivileged, the casually employed and the low income earners who may not qualify to obtain a loan from a commercial bank or a development bank in St. Lucia,” he lamented.
King reasoned that there are many people who cannot afford to pay a commercial bank or even a credit union because they don’t have the equity or a steady income to do so.
“We need to look at areas there are many poor Saint Lucians in this country that may never be able to build a home for themselves … but they squat and they find the means of getting the material to build a shack and eventually they get a mansion. Once we have the sites it gives them an opportunity so they can build those homes in an organised way.”
King said housing in the island will help to improve the standard of living.