The incumbent Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) intends to undertake a vigorous expansion of its urban renewal housing programme when reelected in next week’s general elections.
The ABLP signalled its intention to transform the living conditions in urban communities in 2018 beginning with the 150 home Booby Alley Housing Project which was made possible through a grant from the People’s Republic of China.
Speaking at a recent St. John’s City East community town hall meeting, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said once reelected, the ABLP will utilise the National Housing Development and Urban Renewal Company Limited to spearhead the drive to expand the redevelopment of the housing stock in several urban communities.
Prime Minister Browne said, “It is true that there is a problem with our urban housing and part of our thrust for the new term is to embark on a very ambitious urban renewal programme, not only functioning on the renewal of the central business district, but all of the surrounding communities to include Point, Gray’s Farm, here in Old City Fort Road, Ottos and Clare Hall to literally bring a programme of renewal to renew the housing stock in this country.”
According to Browne, the transformation will improve the aesthetics of these communities by ridding them of derelict, dilapidated and uninhabitable wooden houses. He pointed out that many of these structures are overgrown by weeds and shrubs and are a security and health risk to residents in these communities.
“You will notice that we have a number of wooden properties that are literally dilapidated; many of them are in a poor state of disrepair but are occupied by people.
“Many of them are occupied by individuals who are paying rent so they are utilised as rental properties for Antiguans and Barbudans who obviously would have improved their living standards and would have moved out of these areas and gone to more affluent areas, but we are of the view that it will become a major issue for us, not only in terms of the aesthetics of St. John’s and its surrounding communities, but when you look at what is happening, these properties, many of them have become derelict to the extent they are uninhabitable, and they are overgrown by a lot of shrubs, and they have become a security risk in residential areas and a health risk as well.”
Browne also confirmed that his government is committed to providing funding and home improvement loans to homeowners in urban communities.
“So, it’s an area that we wish to prioritise in the new term by providing funding, and in some instances as well, to even assist with home improvement loans,” Prime Minister Browne said.
“We have a programme that we are currently fleshing out at the Caribbean Union Bank in which we will provide housing improvement loans at a very low interest rate over a 10-year period, but I recognised many of these homes cannot be repaired. They have to be demolished and rebuilt and evidently, we will need the support of the homeowners.
“Now this is intended to be a long-term programme to rid this country of all those inferior housing.”