Mr. Speaker, articulated in both its 2017 and 2020 General Election manifestos – this Government vowed to ensure more affordable housing is available for seniors and families; increase the stock of affordable housing throughout the country and expand rent geared to income programmes.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today for the purpose of providing more evidence that this Government stands by its housing commitments through the Bermuda Housing Corporation (“BHC”). And it is through the BHC that I am pleased to share the following facts.
Since 2017 the Government:
- Has assisted the BHC in adding sixty-six (66) new units that will be or are currently being utilised to either (1) provide affordably priced housing to Bermudians through the Rent Geared to Income based scheme which is capped at 35% of their total household income (25% rent and 10% mandatory savings); or (2) provide affordable properties for first-time homeowners.
- Refurbished four hundred and two (402) units to modernise the utilities within. This number includes the 574 make readies (move out/move ins) from the period 2017 to 2022. Of these approximately 70 percent of them required the installation of new kitchen cabinets, toilets and bathtubs due to the conditions left by the previous tenants.
- Mr. Speaker, between January and December of 2022, the BHC successfully housed an additional forty-two (42) families bringing the total amount of families housed under the BHC to five hundred and seventy-eight (578).
- Mr. Speaker, as stated in this year’s budget debate, to date the previously announced HomeStart Programme – which is a Public Private Partnership with Clarien Bank to provide financial assistance for mortgages – has assisted thirty-four (34) Bermudian families in their quest to become first time homeowners. We are having further discussions with other financial institutions to expand the programme.
- In partnership with Age Concern, Mr. Speaker the BHC has provided thirty-two (32) loans to seniors totalling four hundred eleven thousand, six hundred twenty-six dollars ($411,626.00) to assist their families to keep them in their own homes. There are still funds available and I would encourage anyone interested to visit the BHC either via their website at www.bhc.bm or in person at 44 Church Street.
- As stated in this House on March 3rd, we have replaced two (2) buildings at the Salvation Army Shelter on North Street in Hamilton which are suitable for housing fourteen (14) persons per building, bringing the total available new beds to twenty-eight (28); and,
- Assisted the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors’ Independent Living Programme in its commitment to protecting and preparing those aging out of foster-care [some of our most vulnerable individuals] by providing newly retrofitted accommodation at Garrison View, St. Georges.
Mr. Speaker, it’s worth noting that the Rent Geared to Income programme began in 2007 and has helped nearly 400 families since its inception (with 85 currently under the programme). Members may recall that the Perimeter Lane Condos, 38 units, were built in 2008 specifically for this purpose and have proven to be a resounding success in providing affordable accommodation to families at reasonable rent. The rent is reviewed at lease renewal and adjustments to it – either increase or decrease – are made at that time once a reassessment of the household income is made.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I invite you and fellow honourable members of this House to recall that on 7 October of last year, I announced the Bermuda Housing Corporation – Residential Rental Unit Renovation Programme which will see the refurbishment of one hundred and thirty-seven (137) older housing units inclusive of seventy-seven (77) new units become available in the medium-term at the cost of twenty-one ($21) million dollars.
Mr. Speaker, as I have said before there is no denying that Bermuda has an extremely high cost of living and since 2017, this Government has been doing everything in its power to address this issue in the long-term. More work can and will be done in this regard.
Mr. Speaker specifically to housing, over the next year – that being the 2023/24 fiscal year – barring any unforeseen circumstances, through the BHC, the Government will see:
- The refurbishment of forty-eight (48) affordable rental units;
- Forty-two (42) new units added to the BHC rental stock; and
- Over the next twelve months it is projected there will be nine (9) new families who will become first time homeowners under the Homestart Programme.
Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to our people. We want to reduce the cost of living - we want to ensure a basic standard of life…… and we will deliver on our mandate.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Bermuda Housing Corporation Board, ably led by MP Chris Famous, Management, ably led by Mr. Paul Martin and staff for the hard work they continue to do to further deliver on the BHCs mandate of providing affordable housing for Bermudians.
Thank You Mr. Speaker!