Happy Home Owner: Michael Chang, left, who has been on the Housing Development Corporation's waiting list for 32 years, displays the keys to his new home which he received during the key distribution ceremony at NAPA, Port of Spain yesterday. Looking on are Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal, right, and Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE

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500 get keys to new HDC homes

By Anna Ramdass

Persons who applied to the Housing Development Corporation some 30 years ago for a house were moved to tears yesterday as they finally collected a key to a place to call their own.

Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and HDC managing director Jearlean John together with a number of parliamentary representatives handed out some 500 keys to persons yesterday at a grand ceremony at the National Academy for Performing Arts (NAPA).

Both Moonilal and John promised that the HDC will continue its drive to deliver homes to the people and the thousands of applicants who are still waiting, will not be forgotten. See Page 9.

Many in the audience got emotional as Moonilal said that the time for frustrations over landlords and even loved ones who degrade family members as they do not have a roof of their own was over.

He said there are some 159,000 applications for housing which grows daily.

Moonilal said while this number is now 500 less the numbers will continue to decrease as HDC continues to delvier homes.

He said the cost of housing construction has skyrocketed over the last 50 years with an average three-bedroom unit being provided at approximately $350,000 by the State, and on average $1.5 million by the private sector.

The former price, he said, is heavily subsidised, with the homeowner paying approximately between $200,000 and $350,000.00 and involves a government subsidy of approximately $250,000.

This cost of $200,000 to TT$350,000, he said, is beyond the reach of many lower income families, even with the subsidies and lower interest rates financing provided by the Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company (TTMF).

Moonilal added that of the 159,000 applicants on the national database, an average of 43 per cent earn less than $4,000 per month, 40 per cent earn between $4,000 and $8,000 per month; so combined 83 per cent of the database earns $8,000 or less.

John also moved the hundreds present when she recalled an encounter she had with a woman in need of a home.

"I arrived at work at approximately 5.15 a.m. and whilst walking in to the front door, a lady approached me in the still dark of the morning and said Miss Jearlean you forget me," said John.

John said the woman's social condition had deteriorated to the point where she was living in an old abandoned building.

"I keep replaying in my mind what Ms William Smith said to me that morning,..and I also respond today, no I have not forgotten Ms William Smith nor the 150,000 on the data base at the HDC, we have not forgotten," she said.

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