Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 19th 2014 Contents B6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 19, 2014
Carlos Greene on
the Day of Caring
in May when BP
home. Sharing the
moment are, from
for Humanity T&T
From Page B5
"I m not done yet. The dream isn t fully realised
and when I start something, I must finish it."
HHTT is not a charity organisation that gives
handouts, National Director Jennifer Massiah says.
"This is not a giveaway, but it is a partnership. You
can t sit down and wait for a house to fall from the
sky," she said.
The concept of sweat equity, which required clients
to put in 100 hours on their home and 200 hours on
someone else s, maintained this principle.
"For example, they ll be responsible to off-load
material when it arrives on site. Clients must do some
aspects of unskilled work on their home as well as
Generally, she added, HHTT projects were budgeted
at $150,000 per family which was usually enough for
a three-bedroom house. Over the course of 25 years,
families repaid the loan in monthly installments of
Although most of its work was geared toward build-
ing houses, HHTT s primary aim, according to National
Director Jennifer Massiah, was to develop homeown-
Owning a home required much more than knowing
how to put up a straight wall, and a sturdy roof,
"A lot of emphasis is placed on home ownership.
We conduct programmes on financial literacy, con-
struction skills, legal matters, and disaster risk-reduc-
tion, among other things."
Programmes are free of charge and conducted for
HHTT s clients and the wider public.
Ambitious home owners, who experienced diffi-
culties at various points along the sometimes long
and unpredictable road of building a home, can also
go to the organisation for advice.
"We help those who are trying to build a home.
For example, someone may need architectural advice,
while another person may need guidance on surveying
or engineering. We try to negotiate with professionals
and provide this help in the best way possible."
HHTT facing challenges
Established in 1997 under the auspices of former
Education Minister Clive Pantin and former President
and Prime Minister, the late ANR Robinson, HHTT
has provided more than 900 families in T&T with
However, if a stronger partnership with Government
is established, the organisation can do much more,
Legal land issues, she said, was the biggest obstacle
to establish the global organisation s vision, "A world
where everyone has a decent place to live," in T&T.
"Currently, we have over 338 applications, but half
of the people don t own the land.
Low income families come with very sad stories,
but they may be squatting or have a Certificate of
Comfort and according to the law, we cannot build
on the land."
The authorities need to help us resolve these issues."
Although it empowers hundreds of families to own
a home, the organisation struggles to run its own
household, comprising 18 staff members.
"When donors give you money, they want the
money to go towards housing projects, not staff salaries,
phone bills, rent, and other operational expenses.
All project funds must go to projects and because
of this, we are really hoping Government offers us a
subvention at least to pay staff salaries."
She said their office, located on the ground floor
of the Newsday building on El Socorro Road extension,
was cramped and rent, although discounted, remained
a significant strain.
HHTT applied for subventions, she said, but nothing
"We ve met with the Housing Minister and gov-
ernment several times and they were receptive but
meetings never translated into a subvention or a strong
We can do much more, but the piece of
the equation that s missing is Government s
Do you qualify?
To be eligible for assistance from HHTT
in building a house, you must:
• Have clear ownership of the land or
a rental agreement.
• Receive a monthly income of less than
• Pay sweat equity by providing 100
hours of work on your home and 200 hours
on someone else s.
HHTT is not a charity
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