During the 23 June sitting of the House of Assembly Legislators gave the Social Security Board (SSB) approval to obtain parcels of land. In a motion that was piloted by Minister of Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton, it was announced that the land will be used to erect a new headquarters on Wickhams Cay I. Furthermore additional land will be acquired for future development, including an affordable housing programme.
In presenting the motion, Hon. Skelton explained that SSB intends to invest some $20million into the programme, which will yield houses ranging in cost from $150,000 to $450,000. The housing programme is intended to be done in partnership with local banks which are expected to provide mortgages for qualifying owners.
The Health Minister described the initiative as timely and told the House of Assembly: “What SSB is projected to do here is not just to build a house, but build communities. It’s not just to get a piece of land and build a house, but build condos and family homes. And they are going to have all the amenities in some of these compounds, especially the compounds that have 7, 15 acres of land.”
Hon. Skelton stressed that the homes will not be free, and there will be criteria to ascertain eligibility: “There will be some criteria, procedures. It will not be free; this is not anything free, just in case people getting the wrong ideas. It’s just to help people…They (young people) are not finishing their houses, cannot afford to finish. Here is an organized structure with expertise, engineers, so that the project could be a completed project at an affordable cost,” he said.
The Minister said, “That is key; it must be affordable. So it’s not the low income project that the government should be doing…I cannot stand here and allow people to think that if they take on certain obligations and cannot pay their mortgage…It’s an investment (by SSB). Instead of building communities in Florida, we can do the same thing here. People can own their own homes in an organized community.”