Despite being touted as a low-income housing project, Opposition Leader Hon. Marlon Penn has reasoned that, on the contrary, the Joe’s Hill Housing Project is targeting persons within a higher income bracket who would be able to pay roughly $2,100 per month in installments to a lending facility.
Hon. Penn said, based on his calculations, an average unit would cost in the region of $350,000, and persons would need to have at least $75,000 in the bank as a down payment.
“How is the Ministry or Social Security plan to assist persons because the reality is that persons can’t or won’t be able to come up or won’t be able to come up with $75,000 to purchase a home or a condo? What is the plan to assist persons to be able to own one of these units?” he asked, directing his questions to Minister for Natural Resources Hon. Vincent Wheatley at the House of Assembly sitting on Thursday, May 13.
In response, Hon. Wheatley said, “We can sit here in this room and make assumptions on who can afford what, but what we are going to do is wait and see once the project is completed how those things are going to move because we can sit down and say people cannot afford it, but you may be surprised sometimes those persons who have prepared themselves already have their money and are just waiting to move in.”
He said for some people the government cannot meet them halfway.
“We have to go beyond halfway if we are to hit the target that we intending to hit that’s why we have the money services money there, that could be used to help some of those persons, first-time homeowners because it is part of the criteria. So I can assure you as a government that we will do all we can to help our people to own these properties; whatever it takes, we are going to do it. They shall not remain vacant,” Hon. Wheatley shared.
However, Hon. Penn argued that based on his analysis, plus the current climate relating to COVID
-19, he was unable to see persons finding that start-up capital needed for the bank to secure one of the homes.
“What are you suggesting? We give them out for free or below cost?” Minister Wheatley asked.
Hon. Penn responded, “I am suggesting that we be mindful of the reality of the situation so that when we are doing our analysis to look at how are we going to distribute and get persons into these homes to be mindful of that reality in terms of what is the initial in the market start-up cost is relating to this situation.”
The Minister then said that in reality there are some things some persons simply cannot afford.
"Some people can drive Suzuki, some people will drive BMV, so I still don’t know what you want us to do. But we are mindful that things have a cost to them, you know, now whether some persons you wanna target can afford these things or not we will have to see what we can do to assist these persons.”
Hon. Penn said, “Then the point is, they are not low-income homes then, that’s all I am saying.”