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The coalition opposition, the A Partnership of National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), promised Guyanese when they return to government they will establish a rent-to-own-home.
At a recent press conference Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Aubrey Norton, said “it should be obvious to all that the present government is visionless and what Guyana needs is a government with big plans and a big vision and one which puts people first. We feel the frustrations, weariness, and disappointments of the Guyanese people. We believe we can make Guyana one of the best countries to live in.”
Decrying the government’s housing programme, Norton said rent constitutes a major portion of low-income family budgets (as high as 40-50% on average) and the conventional wisdom has been “the rent eats first”. In many households, he said, rent costs are severely cut into the cash remaining to purchase food, pay utilities, and afford other necessities. To make such conditions of living bearable he proposed that a coalition government will provide support to ensure rent payments do not trap families in poverty.
Making known during the 2023 Budget Debate he addressed the housing sector, he advised that house lots and housing are not the same, and while house lots are on offer, many Guyanese cannot afford to build. As such, he stated, among other housing solutions, a Coalition government will construct low-income rent-to-own housing schemes, where the rent payments of dwellers will go towards the purchase and eventual ownership of their homes.”
“A critical aspect of this scheme is that eligible persons will not be asked to make down-payments. The current requirement for down-payments of several hundred thousand dollars has only served to deny many low-income families access to housing. Under a coalition government, compulsory down-payments will be scrapped.
“Additionally, as the PNCR’s and Coalition’s proud track record in housing has amply shown, when we talk about housing, we mean quality dwellings that are sturdy, appealing and spacious. We therefore share in the public dismay and shock over the questionable design, small size, and poor construction of many of the so-called houses the PPP government is erecting in such areas as Great Diamond, East Bank Demerara.
“Low-income housing must not mean low-quality, cramped, and low-durability houses. We call on the relevant inspectorates within the Ministry of Health and the Guyana Bureau of Standards to urgently assess whether these structures comply with local and international building, safety, and health codes.”
Going further, the Opposition Leader said “the coalition’s housing policy will not ignore the reality that as many as 30,000 Guyanese households continue to live as tenants. Even as our policies facilitate greater home ownership, a Coalition government will address the social and financial hardships of families who rent.”
According to him, a coalition government will therefore introduce a rent assistance scheme. “Its design and operations will guarantee housing security for tenants, fair returns on investment for landlords, and incentives to ensure that the rented housing stock is regularly maintained and renovated.”
The coalition envisages such a scheme as a structured and effective way to help ease the current high cost of living. “Such a scheme—along with our earlier-proposed relief on electricity and water payments for low-income households—can together serve both for poverty alleviation and cost of living relief.”
Pointing out that the proposal is not unique Norton noted several countries have such programmes from which Guyana can adopt best practices and avoid pitfalls. “This is what we mean when we say that we will develop people-centered programmes that bring genuine relief to our people.”