Twenty-six affordable homes that are being planned in the George Town area for first-time Caymanian homebuyers should be available by December, according to Housing Minister Mike Adam.
Mr. Adam said 18 local contractors have signed agreements to start work at the site in Windsor Park by 15 August.
“This project puts quite a few people back to work,” Mr. Adam said. “This is so desperately needed.”
The total project value is $2.8 million, Mr. Adam said.
The Caymanian Compass reported earlier this year that the government’s previous affordable housing project built in Windsor Park eight years ago would be demolished to make way for the newer, better-built homes.
“I wouldn’t say they are a bit [higher quality], they are 1,000 per cent better quality,” said housing trust managing director Janet James during an interview about the project earlier this year. “They are concrete and steel and can withstand up to Category 3 hurricane strength winds.
“The main thing for the Windsor Park site is that we’re redoing it,” she said. “The persons there that are affected are aware of [the pending demolition].”
Similar newer homes have already been built on housing trust sites in West Bay and East End. Ms James said the trust is seeking to develop a certain standard of living in communities designed for lower-income residents.
“It’s a known fact that, if people’s living standards go up, it improves the social standard of the country,” she said.
The affordable housing initiative has plans to expand into Bodden Town as well.
There have been hundreds of applications for newly completed affordable homes in the West Bay and East End districts of Grand Cayman, according to the National Housing Development Trust.
There are only 41 homes to go around – at least for now.
“This is a very competitive application process,” Ms James said. “Demand is much greater than supply.”
The homes were built as part of the trust’s new affordable housing initiative, one of several housing-related programmes managed by the agency.
To qualify for a government-backed home loan under the affordable housing initiative, the applicant must be a first-time homebuyer who is not earning more than $35,000 per year if they are applying alone or more than $50,000 per year if there is more than one person applying for the loan. The person must have been employed for at least a year, or self-employed for two years, and must currently reside in Grand Cayman.
They also must be within the age required for repaying a mortgage, generally between 20 and 60.
The affordable housing initiative loans are very restrictive. Ms James said the applicants must provide a wide range of information to government, including birth certificates and school reports for children living in the home, credit references, personal references and a police clearance certificate, among other items. Individuals who are self-employed must provide copies of financial statements and trade and business licences as well.
“We want to know who the neighbours are, who is in the community,” Ms James said. “We want to know that the kids are living here, not overseas. We’re community-building here.”
Home prices are the same across the board; $77,000 for one bedroom, $95,000 for two bedrooms and $120,000 for a three- bedroom home. However, after the East End project, Ms James said the Trust decided it would not be doing single-family homes anymore. There are two available in East End.
Closing costs range between $2,450 and $4,200.
Those purchasing an affordable home through the Trust can sell those properties, but the agency will get “first dibs” on the buy-back and will be able to purchase the home at its original sale price.