Sunday, April 21, 2024

MIDH continues housing project on the mainland; the Cayes are yet to be included


While the ongoing housing program by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing (MIDH) has yet to reach San Pedro Town or Caye Caulker, 20 homes were delivered to deserving families in December last year in the mainland Cayo and Stann Creek Districts. The MIDH has completed 30 other houses that will soon be given to their owners, and the ministry has approved 35 more to be built. These are single-bedroom homes, and the criteria to qualify when applying to MIDH are applicants/families with none or low income who own a piece of land or have permission to build on someone’s lot. The program assists single parents, the elderly, and the disabled.

The ministry has set up a selection committee evaluating the applications that can either be aided through the respective Area Representatives and/or submitted via email at [email protected]. When the application is received, representatives of the ministry conduct an interview and evaluate the applicants living conditions and where the house would be built. According to MIDH’s Minister the Honorable Julius Espat, the selection committee comprises chief executive officers from different ministries, members from the private sector, activists, and a group called Planners of Belize, among others. Espat added that to build the houses, they employ local contractors providing jobs to the local communities. The starter homes can be expanded in the future, and according to Espat, homeowners are provided with a plan at no cost showing them how to make additions to the house. The home includes all the basics like a septic tank, suck-a-ways, except utilities (electricity and water). The ministry, however, facilitates the connection of these services by working with the utility companies.

Area Representative saying situation different on the Cayes

It is unknown if and when this housing program will make it to the Cayes. One of the issues briefly explained by Area Representative Honorable Andre Perez is that logistics and costs are different on the islands. However, Perez and his team are discussing bringing this housing program to the Cayes.

Although the program shows good results, one problem highlighted by Espat was access to land. “Impoverished people do not own land,” said Espat. “We have the Ministry of Natural Resources for assistance, and they have helped us. But now we have realized that we need to do it more like a housing project to move further.” Espat said the project helped him realize the impact the project has in changing people’s lives.

The MIDH embarked on this program with a $5 million budget and aimed to build 150 homes in the first fiscal year from $30,000 to $40,000 each. Espat said that by the end of the current fiscal year ending in March, they expect to have built about 135 houses. The next phase of the program will assist middle-income applicants like public servants. The ministry will facilitate applicants to get loans, and they will construct the homes, or the applicant can choose a private contractor.

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