Housing foundation celebrates highest point Plantz building

POSTED: 03/1/16 5:48 PM

St. Maarten News – The St. Maarten Development Foundation reached the highest point of the Walter Plantz building in Belvedere which is expected to house some four couples or young professionals who do not qualify for social housing. During the occasion there was the traditional rafter wetting was done by the Chairlady of Parliament Sarah Wescot Williams and the General Director Helen Salomons-Brown.

Minister responsible for Public Works Angel Meyers said that he is pleased with the direction that the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation is heading since they are being creative and seeking new ways to cater to the demands of the market for affordable housing. Meyers speaking at the rafter wetting ceremonies which was held at Lot A1 of the Belvedere Housing project said that his ministry along with the government of St. Maarten will assist the foundation in different ways and means to provide proper safe and affordable housing.

“I could remember in the past where government will issue properties in long lease to individuals to realize their dreams of constructing and owning their own homes. Now we need to come up with creative ways such as building town houses, apartment buildings and other ways that we can provide homes for our citizens,” he said.

He noted that land is not readily available and the private market is very expensive; alternative means should be explored to keep the dreams and aspirations of the citizens of this country alive to own their own homes. “I applaud the initiatives of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation and look forward to the continued cooperation with them and let them know that they have the support of the Vromi-ministry and government in achieving these goals,” he said.

General Director of the SMHDF Helen Salomons-Brown gave a brief overview of how the St. Maarten Housing Development foundation started and an outline of the foundation’s goals. She pointed out that today the housing marketing is experiencing a shortage of quality and good affordable housing accommodation especially for lower and middle income groups.

She recognized that the reasons behind the shortages are the scarcity of land, building materials which are expensive and have to be imported; houses must be hurricane proof which requires more steel which jacks up the price. “The island also has a large group of well off people mostly from the USA who have vacation homes and can afford to purchase the scarce land to build houses, which keeps the prices in the housing market high and the availability of housing low,” she said.

One of the initiatives of the SMHDF is to construct shells to suit one’s budget and to offer lease-purchase options. In some cases the foundation will build the structure without interior division and let families complete it as they see fit. “The SMHDF will create housing opportunities by working to promote the value of diversification and to ensure all residents have equal opportunity to live in a housing accommodation of their choice,” she said.

Her remarks were geared to encourage the leaders and citizens to embrace diversification and to demonstrate the commitment in building and cultivating a culture of inclusion with fairness and by extension housing opportunities for all. Salomons-Brown feels that this can only be achieved by working together to build a thriving and inclusive St. Maarten.

She called for the setting of collective goals to reduce the aggressively growing hidden homelessness and increase housing opportunities while shaping the future.

The rafter wetting ceremony celebrates the SMHDF’s first housing complex for returning students who do not qualify for social housing.

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