Seventeen of the 20 affordable homes built by the National Housing Development Trust in Bodden Town remain unoccupied as of this week, Trust officials confirmed.
Julio Ramos, general manager of the Housing Trust, said three families have moved in and two other families have been approved to occupy homes and are scheduled to move in next week. Eleven are awaiting a bank decision on mortgages, and another four applications are pending final documentation. The homes were completed in August 2013.
An additional 14 homes had been planned for the site as the second phase of the project. However, George Powell, National Housing Development Trust chairman, said he was not sure if these houses would be built at the Bodden Town site unless the Housing Trust determined there was a demand from buyers in that area. Instead, the Trust may turn its attention to George Town.
“We certainly will be focusing on George Town, which I think has a greater demand,” Mr. Powell said.
Mr. Ramos said that as of November 2014, a total of 16 people had been allocated housing at the site off Sitwell Road.
He said all the homes were “turnkey ready for the prospective applicants.”
“There have been some applicants that were successful with their respective banks, and arrangements have been and are currently being made to have these individuals transition to their new affordable houses,” he said.
Mr. Ramos added that the National Housing Development Trust is now focusing on “allocating the vacant houses to prospective applicants under the Affordable Housing Criteria that will then be referred to the banking institutions to obtain financing to purchase the affordable house.”
Mr. Powell said the process of occupying the houses is taking longer than expected because home buyers were applying for their pensions to use as downpayments and are also applying to government for stamp duty waivers.
He added, “Moving forward, I think we will reverse the process and have people qualify for a mortgage before we build the homes so that homes would not sit there empty for a long time. This would certainly be a better deal for the consumer. Basically, if you get the 10 percent [mortgage downpayment from] pension funds and stamp duty waived, people can walk into the homes.”
Under the proposed new approach, Mr. Powell said, home buyers would be shown a set of house plans to choose from and then would start the process of applying to use their pension and stamp duty waiver as mortgage downpayment, and by the time the application process was completed, the house would be built and ready to be occupied.
An article in the Cayman Compass on Dec. 17, 2014, quoted some interested buyers of the Bodden Town homes, who were among 200 applicants, as saying the amount of red tape and bureaucracy involved in buying the houses had made them practically give up.
Among the 20 homes at the site, six have two bedrooms and cost $105,000 each, and 14 are three-bedroom homes selling for $120,000 each.
The Housing Trust is in the process of conducting a survey to identify housing needs in the various districts, Mr. Ramos said.
The Trust’s affordable housing scheme is for people who are unable to afford to rent or buy on the open market. First-time home owners who earn $30,000 or less, or a couple earning $45,000 or less per year, can apply to the Housing Trust for a home. If approved by the board, applicants must apply to a bank for a traditional mortgage.