More than 200 people on waiting list for homes
Twenty government-built affordable houses in Bodden Town that have been vacant since they were completed more than a year ago will remain empty until officials sort out an access road for the development.
Officials say more than 200 people have applied for the homes.
Tony Powell, chairman of the National Housing Development Trust which built the homes, explained that a holdup with an access road has delayed occupation of the homes.
The development needs a second access area before it can receive a certificate of occupancy.
“Government did not enter into a formal agreement with landowner Justin Wood in relation to them using that road near the Cox [Lumber] new building as the entrance to the housing scheme before they were built,” he said
“I do not understand how Planning could have given the OK to start building without a formal easement or right of way, but they did, and after the houses were completed, they have refused to give the [certificate of occupancy] until there is an exit,” he said. “Presently, the scheme only has a main entrance from Belford Estates.” Mr. Powell was not board chairman when construction on the houses started. He said that he would not have given the OK to start construction until this was sorted.
He said the Housing Development Trust is in discussions with Mr. Wood and Harvey Stephenson, who owns the property at the rear of the housing area, to establish a second access road to the development.
Once that is resolved, the Housing Development Trust will start selling the houses, which consist of six two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom properties, he said.
The housing trust also has to sift through 200 applications to find buyers who meet the requirements to secure a home on Lake Destiny Drive in Bodden Town.
However, Mr. Powell said the Trust is still accepting applications.
He said applications will be dealt with in the order in which they are received and the way people qualify.
To qualify, an applicant has to be a first-time owner, earning not more than $30,000 per year for a single applicant or $45,000 for joint applicants.
A buyer must become the owner or occupier of the home; be currently employed for at least six months or self-employed for two years or more; currently reside in Grand Cayman; be Caymanian or holder of Caymanian status; and be within the age bracket required for repaying the mortgage loan.
Mr. Powell say people have the wrong concept of the National Housing Development Trust.
“We are not a lending institution; we are administrators for the application going through the bank and for making sure people meet the necessary requirements,” he said.
He said the Trust is trying to combat the perception that the government is practically giving the houses away.
“The past government instigated a plan of rent-to-own and it has done the consumer no good because, at the end of the day, they were renting but had no equity into the home,” he said.
He explained that the National Housing Development Trust is in the process of revamping the housing development scheme whereby people can purchase a house in partnership with the bank.
“We are actually looking for a better interest rate from them [the banks] and for some fees to be waived or cut in half, but they have not gotten back to us as yet,” he said.
Mr. Powell also said he intends to better educate people about the affordable housing scheme and the Trust plans to hold a meeting on the subject in Bodden Town in the near future.
“There are certain people that do not qualify for the government scheme. It is those people that do not have an income but they want a house. Government has to address that area separately. What the Trust is trying to do is help those Caymanians that are in a lower [income] bracket that need a house,” he said.
He said the option of renting affordable homes in the Bodden Town housing scheme is no longer on the table because the housing trust board had passed a resolution that the homes should be purchased rather than leased.
Officials say the homes, for which 200 people have applied, will remain empty until access to a right of way is sorted out.