Over 300 service lots that the government is developing in the Carmichael Village subdivision, as part of its Access to Affordable Homes Programme, will be ready by October at the cost of $25,000, Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira said yesterday.
While giving the keynote address on the topic of “Ethics, Environment and the Economy” during the University of The Bahamas’ (UB) Science Week, Ferreira addressed the challenge many young Bahamians face in purchasing their first home, and encouraged students to take advantage of the affordable homes program.
“The average piece of property in New Providence – and I’m talking about Over-the-Hill, in the ghetto, if you wanted to go and move in the ghetto – would set you back about $60,000,” Ferreira said.
“That’s now, right now. Now, you’re not even talking about moving to go and live somewhere that you might actually want to go and live.”
After taking a moment to highlight that he was “born right at the foot of Kemp Road” to suggest that he was not putting down living in the Over-the-Hill area, he added: “The fact of the matter is the cost of land is very high in New Providence, and the way we have sought to address that is with service lots where we will be offering lots certainly in the Carmichael Road area for $25,000, and they’re really worth $80 [thousand].
“So you would have some kind of built-in equity.”
Under the Access to Affordable Homes Bill, 2018, the government intends to provide service-ready land at a reduced cost, which will be affordable for scores of Bahamians now locked out of the home market because of the high cost.
The bill also offers exemptions for Bahamians seeking to build homes in designated government subdivisions.
The Access to Affordable Homes Programme rolled out in November 2018 with lots being offered for as low as $15,000. But at the time, Ferreira noted that only nine had qualified of the dozens who applied, due to financial constraints; with 20 being sold by April 2019 and not much more than that by last December, according to a Ministry of Housing official.
Ferreira told UB students that their biggest bill after graduation, and their biggest challenge, would be finding a home on New Providence.
He claimed that luxury “enclaves” like the Lyford Cay, Albany and Port New Providence communities, along with The Bahamas’ “drug years” of the 1970s to 1980s, drove up the price of housing.
“When you go to get your loan, the biggest loan you’re going to get is your mortgage, your mortgage for your house and home,” he said.
“It’s going to be a big challenge.
“…If you have an opportunity to own a piece of the rock for $25,000 you should take it, because you’re never going to see that again in your lifetime.
“It’s never going to happen again. You’re not going to see it. The other group doesn’t – that’s not a concept that they believe in, service lots where you go and build your own house.
“They provide the whole lot and package for you, but you’re not going to see land for $25,000, you’re not going to see it.”
The housing minister also claimed that a previous administration had “romanticized” an idea of encouraging Bahamians to move to Family Islands once infrastructure had been put in place, but said that “it didn’t quite work like that”.
“The fact of the matter is that most of you are going to make lives for yourselves in New Providence,” he said.
“Or you’re going to go away and not come back if you marry for citizenship, become an American citizen, who knows.
“The point I’m making is that the cost of land is high, and that’s going to be your biggest challenge.”
He added, “So these are important social issues. Very, very important.”