Since the PPP / C Government returned to office in August this year, it has started work, with many of the development plans it had outlined in its manifesto being implemented. Housing has been one of the areas where the PPP / C has scored highly, as ordinary Guyanese dreams, to have their own homes, become a reality.
The Ministry of Housing has initiated a series of nationwide defeats in a program dubbed “Dream Realized”, the latest of which took place on Tuesday in Leonora. The Dream Realized initiative is the brainchild of President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali. It was reported that approximately 3500 housing lots had already been distributed. From the public response to this initiative, it is clear that the demand for many houses is high, and authorities would have to do much more to meet this demand.
At the opening of the event on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mark Phillips outlined that providing affordable housing for the Guyanese people was high on the Government’s agenda. The two-day exercise in Leonora will see a total of 1500 house lots provided by the Housing Authority and Central Plan of the Ministry of Housing and Water.
The Government’s ambitious housing scheme involves delivering at least 50,000 homes within its first term of office. It may be remembered that, prior to 1992, this level of optimism among young people, and citizens in general, to own their own homes was not known, as it was very difficult to acquire a plot of land. As well as having to deal with very difficult bureaucracy, there was simply a lack of vision on the part of the PNC Government at the time in relation to housing development. The same situation occurred during APNU / AFC’s tenure in Government, between May 2015 and August 2020.
This has now been changed, as the current administration’s policies on housing development make it much easier for one to own their own home. The transformation currently being experienced in the housing sector is one in which all Guyanese citizens can boast. In fact, nowhere else in the Caricom region is this level of development being tested in the field of housing.
Most would agree that while tremendous achievements have been made in the fields of education, health care delivery, improving social services etc., the gains made in Guyana’s housing sector have surpassed all others. Under the PPP / C Administration, thousands of Guyanese families have received many houses throughout the country. A number of new housing schemes have been developed (and are being developed). On those areas that have been developed, the Government has spent huge sums of money for infrastructure works. In fact, these housing lots that are awarded are highly subsidized, as it is the Government’s intention to make available lands for each individual category of individual.
Prior to the PPP / C Government change in 2015, it had held a number of “One Stop Shops” where people’s house lot applications were fast-tracked. This cut through all the ‘red tape’ one faces when applying for a plot of land. Also, the criteria for land ownership were greatly relaxed. In addition, the banks had made it easier for people to access construction loans. Before the housing boom, a number of criteria had to be met before one could get a loan to build a house. Today this has changed, as the banks offer loans at very affordable interest rates to low and moderate income earners. This was as a result of the Public-Private Partnership developed between Government and the commercial banks, to make it easier for people to own their own homes.
Every Guyanese wants to become a homeowner, and we are pleased that the Government is making the necessary investments in the housing sector to make this happen. The vision for housing development in this country is remarkable, and the key players – Government and Private Sector – must be commended for helping to transform the lives of thousands of Guyanese citizens.
Certainly, there are many challenges to overcome, as there are quite a number of applicants still awaiting word from the Ministry as to the status of their applications. The Government is on track with the “Dream Realized” initiative, which we believe would eliminate the bureaucracy that citizens are forced to endure in the acquisition of large volumes of housing.