SHELTER IS A BASIC NEED, SAYS MINISTER HAMILTON

Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 23, 2017 (SKNIS): The Honourable Eugene Hamilton, Minister of Human Settlement, said that the National Housing Corporation (NHC) was established by an ACT in 1996 in an effort to provide shelter – homes to the poor and indigent, as having a shelter is a basic necessity which improves a person’s quality of life.

Minister Hamilton appeared on “Working for You” on Wednesday, February 22, and said that while the Act provides for other programmes to be administered, the focus of it was to ensure that the poor and the indigent are properly sheltered, as it is a basic need. He noted that without it people become exhausted and often lose their will to live due to prolonged exposure to elements.

“The hierarchy of needs begins with those three important social needs, food, clothing and shelter. And if an individual is to enjoy any further needs or to aspire to any further need, those basic needs of food clothing and shelter become important,” said Minister Hamilton, adding that the NHC is charged with the responsibility to develop the housing stock in St. Kitts.

He explained that it is against this backdrop why the Government of National Unity made it a priority, as outlined in its Manifesto, to ensure that homes are built to meet the basic needs of individuals.

“The journey began way back in our Manifesto when we promised to do a number of housing solutions for the federation once we were elected. And we have been for the last two years working and leafing through a number of proposals, some of them, foreign entities interested in building in St. Kitts, but looking for government guarantees but as you know we came from the debt position we were in [and so] we could not be embarking on government guarantees that will put our debt position in jeopardy,” said the minister of human settlement. We at NHC embarked on a programme to reduce the level of delinquency from 35 percent where we met it and over a two year period we have reached a point where at least in our banks where no money was, we can claim to have a couple of millions of dollars to be able to do some housing programmes even beyond this programme that we are going to be embarking upon.”

Minister Hamilton said that the programme is funded primarily by the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board. He explained that EC $50 million was procured from Social Security, which will be managed by NHC in order to deliver a minimum of 300 houses.

“There will be those persons in the state who will not be able to build for themselves, but involved in all of that is an overall policy that government must encourage the development of housing and that is why in the broader context of the Ministry of Human Settlement we have considered the implementation of housing especially at the middle to upper income levels through different development programmes, programmes that will involve the private sector,” he said. “But when it comes to the National Housing Corporation we focus on just the indigent and the poor. You may find that because of our ability to do so, we may very well move the needle a bit on what we call poor.”

He said that it’s the ministry’s belief that it can provide services to families where the household income is at least not more than five thousand dollars a month, but noted that primary focus will be given to households with an income of EC$3000 or less. He added that there will be opportunities for persons who are beyond the EC $3000 threshold and the ministry will be reaching out to those persons.

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