The Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is on a drive to recover some $244 million owed to it from delinquent tenants and homeowners, some of whom have not paid their dues for over 28 years.
HDC managing director Jearlean John told the Express yesterday that the figures were "alarming" as she noted that people who were given HDC shelter are failing to meet their commitment to the contract and pay their monthly instalments.
In February the HDC established a specialised collections unit in order to recover the growing debt.
An educational campaign drive where the public was urged to pay their outstanding debt was also started in the electronic and print media.
An official from the HDC's collections unit told the Express that some $56 million was recovered to date bringing the outstanding sum down to $244 million.
The official said the HDC anticipates to collect $10 million a month in the coming months.
"People have been arrears since the 80s and 90s and have neglected to make their HDC payments,'' said the official.
While monies are owed to the HDC in areas throughout the country, there are specific problematic areas where some people have not paid in years.
These area were identified by HDC officials as La Horquetta, Tarouba, Pleasantville, Oropune, Malabar and Maloney.
Millions in arrears are also owed to the HDC under various agreements—licence to occupy, mortgage and rentals.
Since the collections unit have started its work, a total of 55 eviction letters have been served to tenants who have defaulted on payments.
The official said that all 55 persons immediately made their way to the HDC in order to settle debts.
Those who could not afford to pay all arrears were given the opportunity to pay through a structured payment plan.
"A person who has been consistently delinquent and who do not intend to make payments, we will not hesitate to evict," said the official.
John told the Express that all HDC contracts were tightened and a more business-like approach was being taken to all transactions.
She said when a person is allocated a house, there is a lot of oversight in the process whereby the person is taken to the unit for viewing and then given a detailed explanation as to the terms and conditions of the contract.
John said the HDC is not on a mission to evict people or leave anyone without shelter.
She stressed that the person will be given all the opportunities to clear his or her debts but if they persist in being negligent in their payments, they will be evicted.
"We will write you, we will work with you in order to recover the money owed,'' she said.
John added that when she started her work as HDC's managing director there was the view that the company had collapsed under its own weight.
She said she has been working to transform the HDC to ensure that the most basic need of shelter is met in a transparent and accountable manner.
"Just please honour your commitment to the HDC, make your payments...there are thousands of people out there who are waiting for homes," John urged.