Over the next six weeks, the Cayman Compass will be taking a detailed look at the complex, multi-faceted problems surrounding the most basic need of everyone who calls these islands home.
Politically, economically and socially, there are few more difficult and potentially divisive issues for the government and its private sector partners to resolve than housing.
Access to safe, comfortable shelter should be the minimum basic requirement and our series starts today by highlighting the pockets of extreme poverty that persist in the midst of our relatively affluent society.
Across Grand Cayman, people are living in converted classrooms, squatting in condemned buildings or suffering through storms in homes that still bear the scars from Hurricane Ivan.
The non-profit sector (funded by the generosity of the Cayman community) and, to some degree, the government are doing their best to provide support to these families, but the need is growing at a rate that outstrips available funding.
A long-term solution is badly needed that addresses demand for shelter, alongside a host of connected social issues.
The families featured are at ‘ground zero’ of Cayman’s housing crisis.
Cayman’s Hidden Housing Crisis
They are the most extreme manifestations of a problem that impacts a much larger portion of our community – diminishing access to affordable housing.
In future editions, we will look at the extent to which runaway price increases over the past decade have put even the bottom rungs of the property ladder out of reach for many young Caymanians.
For growing families looking to upgrade from starter homes to a place where they can happily raise their children, there are similar concerns.
The new government has made the right noises about extending duty exemptions and tailoring concessions towards projects that prioritise affordable homes.
We will look at these alongside a host of other possible policy interventions, including how other island communities – from fellow Overseas Territories like Jersey and Bermuda, to offshore centres like Singapore and Hong Kong – deal with this issue and ask if there are any lessons Cayman can learn.
We will also talk to the government, non-profit and private sector leaders in Cayman that are bringing solutions to the table.
You can join the conversation, highlight areas you think we should be looking at, or give your views on how to resolve these problems by emailing Issues Editor James Whittaker at [email protected].