Dozens of affordable homes sit empty

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Cayman’s National Housing Development Trust is facing a two-fold problem with newer affordable homes that have remained unoccupied for years and older, dilapidated homes that remain occupied despite being condemned.  

Trust General Manager Julio Ramos appeared before the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee last week to update lawmakers on both issues.  

“Why have some of the [newer] affordable homes not been inhabited to date?” George Town MLA Winston Connolly asked during the hearing. 

Mr. Ramos said there were unoccupied houses among those most recently constructed by the trust under the former United Democratic Party government in 2012, in three of the four Grand Cayman districts in which they were built.  

By far, the largest number of unoccupied homes was in Bodden Town, where 16 of the 20 affordable homes stood empty as of last week. However, in West Bay, Mr. Ramos said, eight of the 36 newer affordable homes were unoccupied; in East End, three of the 12 were unoccupied.  

All 26 affordable homes in the George Town area were still occupied, Mr. Ramos said, although he noted that in East End and George Town, some of the affordable homes were still “transitioning” from a rental arrangement to ownership. The housing trust earlier ruled that no more affordable homes would be rented out by the government.  

A separate dilapidated housing development in West Bay, consisting of 30 homes built prior to 2004’s Hurricane Ivan, had 23 homes occupied as of last week. Meanwhile, more than 200 applications have been received by the housing trust for the now empty affordable homes in Bodden Town.  

Mr. Ramos told lawmakers that it was not as simple a matter as moving the residents in the West Bay homes to available housing in the newer 2012 homes or even a matter of picking random people to live in the empty Bodden Town homes.  

“They are subject to the credit criteria set up by the banks. There is difficulty with these individuals coming up with the down payment,” Mr. Ramos said. ”If you’re an employee of the government, you can’t use your pensions … for the down payment.”  

Government does not guarantee loans for the newer affordable housing structures, which consist of one-, two- and three-bedroom structures. It will exempt the purchasers from stamp duty and has already subsidized the cost of constructing the residences, Mr. Ramos said.  

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 an affordable home. If approved by the trust’s board, applicants then must apply to a bank for a traditional mortgage.  

With regard to the older, dilapidated homes in West Bay, Mr. Ramos said financial considerations are not the only difficulty. Some families have “social issues” that were preventing them from moving over to the newer homes.  

In the meantime, basic maintenance issues in the West Bay pre-Ivan development are left unaddressed.  

Mr. Ramos said in December that the occupants who remained there continue to complain about the dilapidation of the houses, including water seepage due to rain, and other issues. However, the housing trust is limited to dealing with septic services and other “common area” maintenance. 

“We’re basically telling them it is not safe,” Mr. Ramos said. “Apart from that, unfortunately, there’s not much we can do.”  

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Government’s newer affordable homes in George Town are all occupied, the only district on Grand Cayman where that has occurred. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay
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  1. I see two reasons why the homes in Bodden Town have not been occupied. First the Bodden Town district has nothing of interest for people to want to come and live here. I invite persons of interest to come to central Bodden Town right up to Frank Sound road on any given day or night, take a drive or walk through and talk about your encounters.
    There is no jobs, no CUC, no water co. No Cable company, no Lime, no place of Heritage interest culture or nature walk. No banks. No service clubs, night clubs, ice-cream parlors, No good saloons or barber shops. No fish market. No airline ticket office. No burger king, no Kentucky, no Pizza hut, no Wendy’s. No mission house, no clothing stores, no supermarket, no motor vehicle inspection or driving licensing department, no tourist attractions, and the list go on. Everything is cramped in Country side village. The Capital central Bodden Town is dying for investments and a little face lift. So with all of these don’t have opportunities, how can we encourage persons to want to live here having to take bus every day and cannot get home until night to take care of their elderly and children. Unless the governments encourage business persons to invest in this district, and those who have it in the district understand that other people want to live too noting will get any better and the homes will be there until they rotten down.

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  2. Twyla raises a good point – while I don”t intend to change the subject here. It just raises some questions that I have.

    Why hasn”t there been any substantial growth and development into Bodden Town?

    I think that this is a very good issue to bring to light for all Bodden Town residents.

    Wouldn”t getting more development into Bodden Town boost the local Bodden Town economy, as well as introduce jobs for its residents?

    If Bodden Town grows, wouldn”t that eventually bring more residents and cash flow into the district.

    I”m currently asking myself what would Bodden Town be like if it was a Town that rivaled the likes of George Town.

    What is the reason why investors don”t feel the need to invest into Bodden Town? Is it because it”s not inviting enough?

    I apologize for being long winded, as I personally feel some of these questions I have, seem a bit trivial, but I”d rather put them out there than to keep them to myself.

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  3. BoddenTown had a great chance for inward investment with the new waste management facility but they blew that off. Mostly everything proposed in that area is met with opposition, so it”s no wonder that they do not have much going on. But It seem that this has been they way they wanted it, like things used to be..

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  4. In my opinion, people of Bodden Town are blessed that they do NOT have..

    .. CUC, water co. Cable company, Lime, .. banks, service clubs, night clubs, ice-cream parlors, good saloons or barber shops.. airline ticket office.. ESPECIALLY burger king, Kentucky, no Pizza hut, Wendy’s…

    This is Grand Cayman, not Miami. Enjoy small island feel while it lasts. PRESERVE this. That is why tourists come here. To escape crowds and concrete jungle.

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