Minister of Housing George Payne has described wanton exploitation of public housing all while the National Housing Corporation (NHC) is swamped with a waiting list 30,000 applications long.
His indictment was of units being occupied by tenants who owned other homes; housing units being rented out while the registered tenants lived elsewhere; tenants were moving out and allowing others to take over occupancy unknown to the NHC.
He also complained of delinquent tenants who refused to pay anything more that the first month’s rent.
Payne made the revelations during a courtesy call last week with the American ambassador, Linda Taglialatela, where he outlined the challenges facing the cash-strapped housing agency.
“Government never thought when seeking to assist poor people, that the system would be exploited in this way. The housing programme is being sabotaged by some people Government sought to help. We will have to look at the legislative framework to see what can be done to bring a more disciplined approach to the transfer of government units,” he said.
The minister also lamented the dwindling stock of Government-subsidized rental housing. He explained that the programme introduced by the previous Government which allowed occupants of NHC units for 20 years or more to but their homes had reduced the available rental stock to about 1,200 units. As a result, a number of units, though unoccupied, are no longer in the system, he said.
Payne stopped short of revealing just how the NHC plans to crack down on those who take advantage of the public housing system, especially in light of scarce resources.
However, last month the NHC swooped down on delinquent tenants, beginning the process of evicting those owing large amounts in overdue rent.
Several tenants at Country Park Towers, Country Road, St Michael, were served with notices to quit by an attorney acting on the NHC’s behalf. Some tenants reportedly owed as much $30,000 in arrears.