GB builder lobbies for a ‘Govt. Rent To Own’ housing project

SOUTH BAHAMIAN HOUSING PROJECT-The houses pictured above, are just two out of 39 constructed as a part of the multi-million dollar Government Housing Initiative in South Bahamia, which began under the former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP)-led administration. The house to the left is one of the five occupied. Meanwhile the one on the right remains vacant. (PHOTO: SHAYNE STUBBS.)

Historically nothing compares to owning a parcel of land upon which one can build a home, raise a family, create memories and pass on a legacy. That was the view strongly expressed by Pinnacle Investment Construction Co. Ltd. President Mike Edwards recently during an exclusive interview with The Freeport News.

Edwards encourages this concept that has become a tradition for many Bahamians and others the world over. He is calling on the central administration to establish a “rent to own program” to elevate those who qualify.

Edwards, during the interview, emphasized the relevance of the multi-million dollar Government Housing Initiative in South Bahamia, which began under the oversight of the former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration.
Former Minister for Grand Bahama Senator Dr. Michael Darville officially introduced the Government Housing Initiative to the Grand Bahama community about 10 months ago (April 7, 2017), when he led a tour throughout Central and West Grand Bahama with Government Heads of Department, which showcased over $50 million in “capital investment & development projects,” pointed out Edwards.

Approximately, 39 new homes were built along Yorkshire Drive and Blair Circle in South Bahamia on large plots of land with each one having a more eco-friendly and efficient architectural design inclusive of energy-efficient, hurricane impact windows with all the necessary utilities fittings in place as well as the rooftops of either metal or Spanish tiles.

Each home that comprises the Government Housing Initiative, has a stately architectural appeal that is consistent with the building code of the Bahamia Subdivision.

“At the time, the PLP-led Government Administration had been keen on providing affordable housing for persons desirous of owning a piece of the rock, hence they entered into a partnership with the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation to ensure that those who qualify for mortgages through the corporation would finally have a chance at home ownership once that project was complete,” informed Edwards.

Possessing nearly 30 years of construction experience, Edwards warned the Grand Bahamian community not to lose sight of the fact that despite the PLP Government being ousted, the present administration led by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis still has an obligation to ensure those homes have tenants.

He said this is the duty of a government, which is continuous to do all within its power to stimulate, grow and strengthen the economy while seeing to it that Bahamians have an opportunity, no matter their political persuasion, to own one of the 39 homes constructed.

“During Prime Minister Dr. Minnis’ 2018 National Address he discussed the topic of construction of low-cost homes and personally and professionally, I do not lend much credence to that simply as it does not make sense in my view, what he proposes to do.

“If you are going to construct homes, one of the first things that must be done is to find a way to lend funds for persons to get mortgages and honestly, this administration is not doing so.

“While there is a lot of talking concerning it, nothing is being done and that can be seen when one looks into the fact that right here on Grand Bahama there are over 25 houses constructed in South Bahamia that have been completed and are sitting there unoccupied, which in my opinion makes no sense.

“If the Government is serious about Bahamians owning and contributing to the growth and development of the country, and this island in particular, then they should have ensured occupation of those houses through the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation or the Department of Housing.

“At least a few thousand persons may have put in applications for those homes and it is a shame that of those who have applied, 25 persons have yet to be approved to own one of the houses constructed.

“The average single family in this country has between two to three children and I can assure anyone that the rent being paid is no less than $700.00 (monthly). Why has The Bahamas Government not done what is necessary to establish a Rent to Own Program?

“The government authorities should have the wherewithal to establish a Rent to Own Program in which they are very selective in who is eligible to be a part of such an initiative,” declared Edwards.

The contractor expressed the hope that a “commonsense approach” is taken to ensure that more Bahamians have the chance to not only own a parcel of land but also at least, to live in comfort in their own country.

He puts forth the view that should the government seriously and carefully consider a “Rent to Own Program” many single families, hard working single mothers could provide “a better life and brighter future for their children.”
Portions of the rent paid monthly to own the home could be used toward the mortgage and preventative maintenance, declared Edwards, who said the “lip service and promises” made by the government is no longer making the grade.

“Personally, I cannot understand for the sake of myself, why both government administrations (PLP and FNM) have failed in this regard, especially as both claim to be the advocate of the small man, yet their actions or lack thereof, is a direct contradiction.

“Do you know how many single families out there, many of which are led by single mothers with three to four children, are living in derelict vehicles and dilapidated buildings?

“Most are willing and possess the ability if provided with the chance to pay mortgage if they were a part of a government rent to own program. Why not put some of these people in those houses instead of having them closed up, unoccupied and vandalized?

“What is the rationale behind the actions or lack thereof by both government administrations (PLP and FNM) as it concerns such matters,” Edwards asked.

Regarding other issues of concern within the Grand Bahama community, particularly where the Construction Industry and local economy are concerned, Edwards said he is intent on humbly challenging both the government and the Bahamian people to open their eyes and ponder these issues of serious concern.

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