Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
Last week’s announcement by Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, that the Government has begun constructing 190 low-income houses in Cummings Lodge, Greater Georgetown is welcoming. It is the dream of everyone to own their own home. It is a fact in Guyana this dream remains elusive for many, and not necessarily because of income but other factors such as availability, location, ability to purchase land and accessing loans from the bank.
Guyana’s housing situation is chaotic to say the least. Persons from across the socio-economic spectrum are finding it difficult to own a home and the national Housing Development Programme has been deficient, putting it mildly. What exists is far from addressing the gravity of the situation. This has led to the creation of shantytowns, people squatting anywhere, including on reserves, posing threats to poor health conditions and water borne diseases.
The paucity of homes, particularly in the towns, have led to overcrowding which exposes persons to poor living conditions and interpersonal conflicts. Housing has not kept pace with development and the movement of people from one area to another seeking economic growth. Some could tell the tales of waiting years to get a house lot from the state and the government too would acknowledge the backlog of application. The situation is creating a sense among some that distribution is not fair or equitable.
Every time Guyanese hear a housing project is being established by the Government questions are asked, such as, “when will I or John Jones be called? Some have applied for a house lot ‘donkey years’ ago. The query in no way reflects the absence of the Guyanese spirit of camaraderie but concern about their application or when will be their turn to have their house constructed.
For instance, last year the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) clashed with persons who have constructed houses in Success, East Coast Demerara, which previously was a cane field. Those persons were told to vacate the area because GuySuCo wanted to utilise the area for cultivation. Tactics such as the police firing pellets and the company flooding the land, which resulted in damage to properties, were used to force the squatters off the land.
Many of those Success squatters told this publication they had nowhere else to go, others had already built permanent structures on the land, and some said they had applied to the Ministry for a house lot years ago and are yet to receive an affirmative response. Are some of these persons part of the 190 identified new low-income homeowners?
The Cummings Lodge housing project which has been assigned to plots 1,767 and 1,768 is expected to have at least $1.5 billion in infrastructure work, which the Ministry called “massive.” Whilst the government said that the construction of those houses form part of the 1,000 young professional and low-income housing units, given the backlog of application and promises to receive a house lot once qualified, there are needling questions. Persons are desirous of knowing who would be the new homeowners, what they needed to be qualified, are they residents from the area and its surroundings, or are they being relocated? These are fair questions given the housing crisis.