Foundation breaks ground for The Villas at BelvederePOSTED: 05/18/12 1:34 PM
Tenants Association supports homeownership project
St. Maarten – Construction work will soon begin on eighteen new homes now that the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation has broken ground for the The Villas at Belvedere.
A special ceremony on Wednesday at Golden Grove Estate Road, attended by residents, government officials and housing experts paved the way for the project to be launched. More than four contractors will be used in the process with SMDF Managing Director Henry Lynch calling the move the most celebrated achievement of his organization to date. “Our aim is to provide for the housing needs of St. Maarten.”
Lynch used the opportunity to reflect on the many challenges his organization faced in streamlining operations and then moving towards its goal of providing affordable housing. During the process the collection of rents was pursued and evictions were carried out. “The acquisition of over 20,000 square meters of land, the collection of over two million in back rent and subsidies and the sponsorship of 12 playgrounds,” were also accomplished, Lynch said.
The public relations officer of the Belvedere Homeowners and Tenants Association (Bhota), Malaine Dublin noted that rental payments are gone once you make them but taking a mortgage increases one’s equity. It is for this reason, she said, that Bhota supports the homeownership project being embarked on by SMDHF. “A family that owns its own home takes pride in it and has a more wholesome, happy atmosphere in which to bring up family.”
Dublin also appealed to commercial lending institutions to offer first time buyers more guidance to help them to accomplish their goals. “Banks nowadays make it easier to buy a vehicle but have very complicated procedures to get a mortgage,” she posited.
Many of the properties that the homes were constructed on were received in long lease from the government in February. The homes were all designed by Errol Neuman as either two or three bedroom duplexes. Financing for the project was provided by CIBC First Caribbean Bank.
Outgoing Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Vromi, Theo Heyliger who symbolically broke the ground at Lot A9 revealed that another bank offered to give SMDHF, 5 million guilders at a rate of 1% interest during construction. “I do hope that the new government will keep this in focus. Once the interest rate remains this low, then we can keep the homes at an affordable price for the population.”
He also commended the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation for utilizing more than four contractors for the execution of the project explaining that government’s fundamental position was to always assist small contractors and ensure that residents, “the boys on the block”, of various districts participate in developmental works in their community.
With the construction of new homes in Hope Estate, another 18 soon to be completed in Belvedere and some 50 homes earmarked for construction in Sucker Garden, Heyliger said that he is satisfied that the housing foundation is well on its way to fulfilling its mandate.