Elso Kraai calls on politicians to develop social housingPOSTED: 05/18/12 1:26 PM
Every citizen has the right to proper housing
BELVEDERE- Chairman of the supervisory board of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMDHF), Elso Kraai has issued a stirring call for politicians and the business community to assist in the development of social homes in St. Maarten. “Studies show that there is a shortage of about 1200 social houses in this country. We need to use all of our resources to provide them (low income earners) with proper homes.” Kraai was speaking at the official groundbreaking ceremony for 18 new homes called the Villas at Belvedere on Wednesday.
He explained that a large group of low and middle income earners suffer from paying high rents monthly. Many of them are also exploited by landlords who seek to pass off the high construction cost or their mortgage payments to their tenants. To avoid this some people just resort to substandard housing, Kraai said.
“Parents need to feel comfortable in their house and focus all their energy towards the health, education and upbringing of their children. But rent takes most of their income and construction cost is high.”
While admitting that SMDHF was able to provide social housing through Usona and government’s help, Kraai suggested that the executive and legislative branches of government collaborate to solve this problem. “Our task is not finished for those who have no choice we need to do better. Government rent subsidy is not enough to provide a steady flow of low income housing. Maybe the parliament can put regulations in place for the building of low income housing.”
At the mention of parliament’s intervention, sections of the audience began to snicker but Kraai continued his evaluation of the St. Maarten situation. He explained that in the past, companies built big hotels which employed between 200 and 500 workers. “They invested all their money in big, beautiful structures but did nothing for their employees in terms of providing homes. Maybe they can do better in this age. We are looking for a win-win situation for the businesses and for the workers, the citizens of our country.”
After a tumultuous period under new management, Kraai says that he expects the SMDHF to show more transparency and progress in the future.