(CNS): The National Housing Development Trust (NHDT) is beginning a project in Bodden Town to build 16 affordable homes on a 10-acre site off Lake Destiny Drive, close to 20 existing affordable homes that were constructed in 2012. The homes will be made available for sale at between $110,000 and $125,000 for eligible Caymanians. Applicants must be first-time home-owners, with single applicants earning no more than $36,000, or joint applicants earning no more than $50,400 per year.
At a cost of around $2.5 million, the new development is being funded from previous NHDT house sales, officials said in a release, despite recent revelations by the auditor general that the Trust cannot survive without continued funding from government.
Once applicants have been pre-approved under the Affordable Housing Initiative criteria and financially assessed by the NHDT, they will be referred to local banks for financing.
A ground-breaking took place Wednesday at the site, where government officials gathered to congratulate themselves on the project. NHDT Chairman George Anthony Powell said he was happy to celebrate the ground-breaking for the new homes.
“Our mandate is to provide home-ownership opportunities for Caymanians who would otherwise be unable to buy their own house, so it’s heart-warming to witness the work begin on these 16 new properties,” he said.
“We are here on Lake Destiny Drive, which I think is most appropriate,” Premier Alden McLaughlin said. “By building these homes we are, indeed, improving the destinies of many here in the Cayman Islands.”
Housing Minister Dwayne Seymour said he was very pleased to see the homes were being built in his constituency, though it was not clear if that was by chance or design. He said there was a great demand for affordable homes in Bodden Town. Meanwhile, his councillor, Capt. Eugene Ebanks who represents West Bay Central, said he hoped his district would be the next to benefit in phase 2 of the Affordable Housing Initiative.
The NHDT has been plagued with problems since its inception from corruption and fraud scandals, as well as the original homes being condemned. The first homes were built during the 2001-2005 UDP administration, when Dr Frank McField was housing minister, and they were considered affordable. But some were destroyed in Hurricane Ivan, alongside a massive loss of material. Corruption scandals also plagued that project, with allegations of the misuse of public funds.
The newly designed homes that began being built post-Ivan were considerably more expensive, but the various projects were also plagued with corruption and fraud problems, with board member Edlin Myles convicted of insurance fraud against several of the buyers.
The Trust has also had to manage delinquent tenants, and efforts to demolish the old homes and build new ones, especially in West Bay, have proved challenging because although the properties have been condemned, there is nowhere for many of the people living in the older properties to go.