There will be no let up in Government’s housing programme despite a change in ministers.
Acknowledging he was taking over from a successful predecessor in Michael Lashley, new Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development, Denis Kellman, said he was ready for the challenge and opportunity.
The St. Lucy MP, who took the oath of office this morning at Government House, told Barbados TODAY afterwards that he would be focussing on improving the housing conditions of Barbadians living in plantation tenantries, providing land for people to build their own homes, and constructing starter homes in a way that would make it easier for people to expand.
He also said his Rural Development portfolio would allow him to help empower young people, especially in the area of farming and fisheries.
“My aim is to help the community where you give people the opportunity to build their homes. I would like to develop parallel housing programmes where Government can continue building, but those people who have money can at the same time be given lots so that we can have additional houses going on at the same time,” Kellman said.
“As for helping people living in plantation tenantries, the minister said he would have to read the relevant files, but added “that is something that we will have to take seriously because it is one thing to pass the law but it is another thing to empower the people”.
“The country will not have as much money as it would have had for 14 years under the Barbados Labour Party, but you have to prioritise and appreciate those persons who would have sacrificed over the years. I would hope that we can do something about the implementation because if we don’t it will take 15 years or more to solve it based on the problems that we found,” he stated.
“One of the things that we will also be trying to do is to ensure that everybody that has National Housing Corporation units and qualify that they get a piece of paper showing ownership, because I don’t think that people understand the importance of that policy.
“That is a policy that puts money in people’s pockets and allows people that did not have a home to get homes. They can also use the homes as collateral to purchase other property.”
Kellman said he also intended to fully utilise the skills of NHC artisans, noting “if they are on the payroll we are going to have to use them to build houses too”.
“Also in terms of starter homes, any homes I have to build people will have the opportunity to build at the bottom of their houses. So all starter houses I will be building elevated, leaving enough room so that when people want to expand they won’t have to take off the roof they will be able to expand from the bottom,” he said.
“I am keen on working on the development of rural Barbados not just roads and housing. I intend to use that to help take the guys off the block and employ them as business people; young people want to be able to work for themselves.
“We are not just looking for people to cut grass along the highway, we need to get people to be more productive, we need them to do more farming and fishing,” he said. (SC)