Affordable housing project nears start

The National Housing and Development Trust hopes to begin construction on a new affordable housing site in George Town in early 2008.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said the site off Fairbanks Road is being subdivided off the property that includes Fairbanks women’s prison.

‘It will have about 70 homes and perhaps some multi-family dwellings,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.

The NHDT planned on using the same site for affordable housing under the previous government administration. However, the current government, after seeing the site was subjected to severe storm surge flooding during Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, initially dismissed the property as too low for the affordable housing project.

The Government reconsidered its decision when a plan was conceived to build a retaining pond on the site for flood waters.

‘[The retaining pond] will also enable us to build up the property to five feet above sea level with the material excavated from the pond,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.

There will be three affordable home plans available; a one-bedroom, one-bathroom with 540 square feet of living space; a two-bedroom, two-bathroom with 805 square feet of living space; and a three-bedroom, two-bathroom with 978 square feet.

To qualify for one of the homes, applicants must be a first-time home owner and earn no more than CI$30,000 if a single applicant or CI$45,000 combined for joint applicants.

In addition, there are several other qualifications: Applicants must live on Grand Cayman; become the owner/occupier of the home being purchased; be employed for at least six months or self-employed for two years; be Caymanian or hold Caymanian Status; and be within the age bracket required for repaying a mortgage.

The NHDT already has many applicants for the homes.

‘At the present time, we have over 600 persons who have submitted applications for affordable homes,’ Mr. Tibbetts said during the Cabinet press briefing Thursday. ‘Although the NHDT have a more relaxed method and policy of qualifying person for a home, there will be others that will not qualify.

‘As we’ve said before, we are here to provide a helping hand and not a hand out.’

Because of the high demand for the homes, not everyone will receive a home, even if they qualify for the loan. Mr. Tibbetts pointed out that people who own their own land already can also apply for the building of one of the affordable homes on their property.

Those that do receive affordable homes will have the title in their own names. Because the affordable homes are provided at a discounted price, should an owner resell the home within a period of time specified by the NHDT, the owner will be required to reimburse the NHDT for a portion of the sales proceeds.

In addition to the initial loan fee costs, owners will be responsible for paying homeowners insurance, life insurance and monthly mortgage payments.

In addition to the Fairbanks site, the NHDT has also identified another 10-acre site for affordable homes in West Bay off Birch Tree Hill Road, Mr. Tibbetts said.

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