Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 24th 2017 Contents In 2003, when the then Government---
led by Patrick Manning---began its
housing programme, Mark Oliver*
submitted a housing application
to the National Housing Authority
When the NHA was replaced by HDC in
2005, Oliver went to the head office at South
Quay, Port-of-Spain, to check on his appli-
cation. He was advised to be patient and was
reminded that allocation was based on a lot-
In 2017, Oliver's salary is an estimated
$15,000 and he is stuck in a financial in-be-
This salary, which fits into the income range
of HDC's programme, has not managed to get
him an allocation, but is also too low to qualify
him for a mortgage in the private sector.
Oliver, who turns 40 this year, has almost
given up on becoming a homeowner through
the HDC and because of the difficulty in ob-
taining a private home has had to rent in various
locations across Trinidad to keep a roof over
his family's head.
Oliver's story is not very different from
many of the 174,000 people on the Housing
Development Corporation's (HDC) growing
list of applicants.
Some of these applicants will never be
allocated an HDC house nor will be able to
purchase their own home privately---either
because the HDC cannot reasonably meet the
demand or because they simply cannot afford
It's a problem acknowledged by the gov-
In November 2015, Prime Minister Dr Keith
Rowley said the government does not have the
ability or resources to build homes for everyone
who needs one.
The numbers reflect this.
In 2014, the list of applicants in the HDC
database showed 220,000 applicants.
The decrease to an estimated 170,000 people
today is less a result of actual allocations, and
more likely a result of a change in government
policy. A policy which saw the income limit
for eligible housing applicants move from an
upper limit of $45,000 to $25,000, essentially
removing approximately 50,000 people from
the list who have to seek alternatives in the
private sector housing market.
In 2003, when the housing programme was
initiated under Patrick Manning's adminis-
tration, the goal for housing construction was
approximately 8,000 per year.
If that goal was achieved, based on the cur-
rent list of applicants, it would take approxi-
mately 25 years to complete.
The 8,000 per year construction, however,
has proven to be unachievable so far.
Between 2003 and 2009, a six-year peri-
od, the Manning administration built 15,576
homes, redounding to 2,626 per year.
At that rate, it would take 66 years to clear the
current list. That rate of housing construction
was not sustained.
Between 2010 and 2015, the People's Part-
nership built 3,900 houses. That's approxi-
mately 780 per year. At that rate it would take
223 years to construct houses to meet the de-
mands of the current list.
For people like Oliver, trying to obtain a
house privately has been equally futile.
Even though he has accepted that it's a
"lucky gamble," Oliver said the real issue for
him was, "the accessibility of credit, especially
for young people wanting to get a mortgage to
buy a house.
"If you are a sole trader or don't work for a
company with a pay-slip, most times you will
not be given a chance and will be turned away
even to get a loan."
Demand for high-end mortgages
Local banking experts interviewed by the
Business Guardian have said that despite the
negative effects of the contracting economy,
the demand for housing in the private sector
has not declined.
According to officials of RBC Royal Bank,
"The dream of home ownership has not waned
as more and more clients are seeking oppor-
The demand is greater for those who can
afford properties over $1 million.
"What we are seeing is there is a greater de-
mand for properties around the $1.2 million
to $1.5 million range," said the RBC official.
Property ownership is listed as an impor-
tant way of establishing equity in one's asset
Although the demand for housing appears
to far outweigh the availability of units being
produced both in the public and private sectors,
the banking experts admitted that the trend
was moving based on the socio-economic
Pressed to say if there was a greater demand
for homes in gated communities, officials said,
"Security is a key factor for clients, especially
With home ownership being defined as one
of the most important steps a person can take
in his/her life--- and one which would often
constitute the largest asset an individual can
own---the bank stressed it was important for
people to know what was involved in the pro-
cess and to be clear on what they would qualify
for given their income bracket.
The parameters being used to assess poten-
tial home-owners, officials said, would include
the person's age, income, existing debt and
overall credit history.
At RBC Royal Bank, a person earning a sal-
ary of $10,000 per month could qualify for a
mortgage of approximately $600,000; while
a salary of $15,000 per month could qualify
a person for a $900,000 mortgage; with a
$20,000 per month salary qualifying some-
one for a $1.2 million mortgage and $25,000
per month would enable a person to secure a
$1.5 million mortgage. See Table
BG4 | COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt AUGUST 24 • 2017
Mortgage value according to income
INCOME COMMERCIAL BANK
Information sourced from RBC and TTMF website
caught in the middle
Not enough income for private homes
Demand for public housing greater than supply
Continued on Page 5
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