Government needs $34 million to complete an initiative in which National Housing Corporation (NHC) units are being passed on to tenants who have occupied them for more than 20 years and have fully paid up their rent, according to Housing Minister Denis Kellman.
The plan to convert renters of NHC units to owners was announced in 2008, but Kellman spoke over the weekend of a need for money to finish required refurbishment of the units, so that many can be handed over in good shape to qualified tenants.
“You know the truth, it only cost $34 million. I can deliver nearly 3,000 solutions, and satisfy nearly 10,000 people,” Kellman told a ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) branch meeting in the Pine on Sunday.
He declined to say where the funding would come from. “That is being discussed. That will be announced in the fullness of time. We have identified the funds and we are hoping that we get the permission to use the funds that way,” he said.
“That should be something we should know pretty soon. We are committed to the programme. So if one idea doesn’t work, we have to find an alternative idea…if we can’t get the cash, we have to find the kind,” he added.
In what may be a funding alternative, he announced a capital-raising scheme that will enable tenants to hasten their route to unit ownership, while advancing money into the government’s coffers.
“That programme is so good that you could go and pay up your rent for five years and you are in the 20-year programme… Also, if you want to fast track the 20-year programme, you can pay forward and get the property. You will pay the remaining rent in a lump sum so that you can get the title. “
He also restated an intention to sell off high-end government land as another option for raising funding.
“National Housing got some land up in the north at $35 per square foot … If the deficit is large, I got to sell land to make some money to reduce the deficit,” Kellman said.
He added: “In order for me to subsidise land for you, I must get some from the rich. If I do not sell commercial land, then the deficit gets larger, and it means I cannot give you what is truly yours”.
Regarding tenants who have satisfied the full requirements for ownership of their units but are awaiting the transfer, Kellman said: “Some [conveyances] have been passed. The only reason they are held up is because we wanted to ensure that we give you perfect title and a proper building… The engineers are on board, we are working out a solution with the surveyors. Those were the two headaches.
“When we have completed the work, we will pass on the conveyances.”