The demand for public housing remains a challenge with the National Housing Development Trust fielding a continuing flow of applications.

There are 196 applicants awaiting low-cost homes, according to NHDT general manager Julio Ramos.

Legislators raised the issue of low-cost housing when Ramos appeared before the Finance Committee on Monday in the Legislative Assembly to get approval for 2020/2021 funding.

George Town South MLA Barbara Conolly questioned how many people were on the waiting list from George Town.

Ramos said 32 applications were received from that district and they have been waiting since last year. However, he said, those waiting have indicated that they will accept placement in any district.

He said priority is given to those in greater need such as families with children.

The NHDT general manager said the Trust is working on building more homes to meet the demand. He said the Trust has acquired a 24-acre property off the Linford Pierson Highway which also has capacity for a significant multipurpose facility for public use.

While 32 George Town residents have applied for this type of housing, Ramos expects that number to grow when more low-cost homes are built in the district.

“I can anticipate that when announcement is given that we are going to George Town with a realistic timeline, this 32 is going to increase to over 100, 200,” Ramos said.

George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan questioned whether any consideration was being given to building apartment properties that Needs Assessment Unit clients can use, especially those having problems finding rentals.

Housing Minister Dwayne Seymour said those types of decisions will have to be approved by the Trust’s board.

However, he said it was his vision for housing to be made available for NAU clients, but Seymour hastened to add government “wants to ensure that the quality of these projects is one that is appreciated by Caymanians”.

He said government does not want to create a worse situation by putting the wrong programmes in place.

Ramos said 325 people were on the Trust’s housing roll; of that figure only 132 remain active. Those who were cleared, he said, have met their financial commitment to the Trust for the homes they received.

He said the default rate was between 1-2% overall.

“If anything, we can brag about that,” he said, since that meant government does not have to pay in terms of liability.

Ramos confirmed that the Government Guaranteed Housing Assisted Mortgage programme is in the process of being renewed.

Responding to Conolly’s question on the programme, Ramos said the plan is for the NHDT to go back to the banks to “re-invigorate or initiate in the programme” and get consensus on the points of differences in the agreements negotiated in the previous iteration of GGHAM.

“If we were to do that we would have… close to 200 individuals that we can assist in that programme,” Ramos said.