Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Housing Dr Earl Asim Martin on Wednesday 15th January launched the National Housing Corporation House Refinancing and Incentive Programme, and the National Housing Corporation Land Refinancing and Incentive Programme.
“Housing is part of the Labour Party administration’s strategic plan to empower citizens by breaking the cycle of generational landlessness and creating generational wealth through property ownership,” said Dr Martin during a press conference held at the FND Enterprise Co-operative Credit Union’s conference room at Bladen Commercial Development in Basseterre.
He noted that when the Board of Directors of the National Housing Corporation was reinstated for an additional term in 2013, as Minister of Housing, he challenged the Board to find viable solutions to the delinquency in payment and to continue to make NHC viable and sustainable, and to reduce the interest rates of mortgages, thus making homes affordable.
“Today the National Housing Corporation has answered that challenge by rolling out two major plans that are direct responses to the challenges that we face,” said Dr Martin. “These are the National Housing Corporation Land and House Refinancing and Incentive Programmes.”
He explained that benefits of the two programmes include lowering the annual interest rate on land; lowering the annual interest rate on houses for anyone currently paying above six percent per annum as of the first of January 2014; and a waiver on interest arrears on the balance of land loans for any person paying the balance on the account in by the 31st of March 2014.
Other benefits as outlined by the Minister included waiver on the interest arrears on land for every month that payment is made on time; and a waiver on the interest arrears on houses for every month that payment is made on time.
“The opportunities that these plans offer impact on all NHC clients, and all that is required (of them) is participation and compliance with the new arrangement,” advised the Deputy Prime Minister.
“All persons with delinquent accounts through this programme have the extraordinary opportunity to have their arrears cleared by complying and becoming disciplined clients through this arrangement.”
The Press Conference was chaired by Ms Judith Rawlins, General Manager of the National Housing Corporation, who observed that the corporation which has been in existence for 17 years was launching very important projects that she guaranteed would impact and create the vision of what is intended in housing for 2014 and beyond.
Present at the press conference included the Chairman of the National Housing Corporation Board of Directors, Dr Osbert Liburd; National Housing Corporation’s Accountant, Ms Eslyn Swanston; NHC Board Member, Ms Alethea Gumbs; NHC’s Mortgage Manager, Ms Camilla Williams; NHC staff members; and Coordinator of Housing in the Ministry of Housing, Mr Charles Williams.
Chairman of the National Housing Corporation’s Board of Directors Dr Osbert Liburd, who expounded on the finer details of the benefits of the two programmes, pointed out that the role of the National Housing Corporation is to improve the quality and affordability of homes for the people in a certain economic bracket.
“In doing that today we want to speak specifically to the area of affordability,” said Dr Liburd in reference to the NHC House Refinance and Incentive Programme. “Presently the NHC interest on house ranges between 5 to 8 percent per annum, and that is a very wide range, because you have some persons at 5 percent and others at 8 percent.
“So what we want to do here is to try to bring that range in, so we are moving the range from five to eight percent to five to six percent. Our objective really in the end, when we are in a position to do it, is to bring everything to five percent. Right now based on the resources we have, we can move it from five to eight to five to six. This is a huge benefit to persons.”
The Chairman further explained that by enrolling in the New House Agreement, the outstanding principal on their house will be placed in a new payment plan over a period, not exceeding 30 years, at a rate of 5-6 percent per annum.
He added that all persons paying on houses at NHC are eligible for their outstanding interest arrears as at end of December 2013 to be cleared, simply by making payments on time in the new arrangement, over the twenty four months of 2014-2015.
In the second package, the Land Refinance and Incentive Programme, Dr Liburd said that effective January 1st 2014, all NHC interest on land has been lowered from 10 percent to 7 percent per annum.
By enrolling in the New Land Agreement, the outstanding principal on their land will be placed in a new payment plan over a period, not exceeding ten years, at a rate of 7 percent per annum.
Similarly, all persons paying on land at NHC are eligible for their outstanding interest arrears as at end of December 2013 to be cleared, simply by making payments on time in the new arrangement, over the twelve months of 2014.
“The onus is on you to pay on time,” said the Chairman. “I believe that there must be responsibility and we believe that there must be discipline and we must develop new habits – the habits of paying for our homes on time.”