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Govt’s housing program delayed

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 15, 2013

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The government's national housing program has been delayed by several months, and there is no definitive date when the project will begin, although Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC) Chairman Alex Storr said recently that he is hopeful it will start "soon".

Storr said while he is concerned that the program has yet to kick off, the BMC is working to ensure that the problems that haunted the struggling corporation in the past do not happen this time around.

"There are people in houses now without a properly secured mortgage," he said.  "So with this housing program and the way it is structured, we are making sure that all the ‘t’s are crossed and all the ‘i’s are dotted so that when we start building, people can move right in with no problems."

In June, the Ministry of Finance signed a $60 million memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Insurance Board (NIB) and BMC for the national housing program.

At the time, Housing Minister Kenred Dorsett said the project would begin in 30 days.

Storr said the start of the project has also been delayed as BMC and the government worked to fulfill the stipulations in the MOU.

"There are several things that had to be done before the funding is passed over to us," he said.  "This includes the hiring of a financial advisor and a project manager."

Storr said those positions were recently filled.

"So now we can move forward with the funding, receive the funding and start building.  I wouldn't put an exact time on it, but I expect it to commence shortly," Storr said referring to the start of construction.

Asked if he expects the project to start by the end of the year, Storr added: "I wouldn't tie down [a date] because we thought we would have started by now, but there are things in the agreement that we have to put in place before we could start building.  Most of those things are in place."

The new homes will be built in subdivisions in New Providence and Grand Bahama, Storr said.

The first phase of the construction will cost $10 million, which will be disbursed to the ministry in quarterly installments of $2.5 million.

Over 1,000 have applied for government homes.  One hundred and twenty homes are expected to be built during phase one of the project.

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