While 176,000 applicants are waiting in line for Housing Development Corporation (HDC) homes, only 160 successful applicants will become owners of the HDC’s million-dollar apartments at Mahogany Court in Mt Hope.
The 48 two-bedroom apartments are expected to cost each homeowner $1.1 million, while its 112 three-bedroom apartments will fetch higher prices. Eight of the three-bedroom, two bathroom apartments, will be built for the physically challenged.
This was revealed yesterday following a tour of the project’s construction site by contractor and executive chairman of NH Emile Elias, Housing Minister Edmund Dillon, HDC chairman Newman George and its CEO Brent Lyons.
The visit was to give an update on the project.
The sod for the project was turned in November 2016 with work being started in April of this year. Completion is expected in September 2021.
Elias boasted that NH’s tender was $100 million lower than the second tenderer. The value of the contract was $192 million. The development is expected to be completed in four phases with a total yield of 160 two and three-bedroom, two bathroom apartment units.
Elias said First Citizens has financed this first public-private partnership model for the housing sector instead of the HDC.
At a press conference following the tour, Elias admitted there were delays with the project based on financing and getting the banks on board.
“The construction is the easy part for us. But the financing is a challenge….getting the loan agreements done…getting all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed. But now it serves as a model,” Elias said.
Asked about the cost of the apartments, George said, “The average cost of one of these units would be about $1.1 million.”
George admitted the cost of the three-bedroom apartments would be “a little higher.” Pressed further on this cost, George said the HDC would have to work that out.
Asked if the HDC had moved away from its mandate of building affordable homes for low-income earners, George said this was not so.
“HDC is still doing that in other developments.”
George cited River Runs Through in Arima, priced at $585,000 and other projects at Malabar, Carlsenfield, Bon Air South and Lake View that were reasonably priced to meet the needs of those seeking homes.
George said approximately 23,700 of the HDC’s applicants had indicated they would like to live in the San Juan/Laventille and Tunapuna/Piarco regions. These applicants fell within the $14,000 to $25,000 monthly pay range.
A background sheet provided by the HDC said of the 23,700 applicants, only 350 had been shortlisted and pre-qualified for the Mahogany Court development. However, of those shortlisted only 160 will qualify for an apartment.
In the fact sheet, it showed that 31,857 of HDC’s applicants had expressed an interest to live in the Tunapuna/Piarco region, while 19,855 preferred to live San Fernando, with Chaguanas and Arima having the least figures with 17,804 and 15,517 respectively.
Since taking up office as minister last month, Dillon said there were 176,000 applicants waiting in line for housing. He admitted there had been an increase in applicants.
“It will continue to increase because there are always young people looking for homes and houses,” Dillon said.
Last August, former housing minister Randall Mitchell said the HDC had 170,000 applications in its system.