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Low Income Housing - Providing equity across Saint Lucia

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Contact: Ina Joseph

Thursday, April 10, 2003 – Government has pledged its continued assistance to the underprivileged through the provision of low income housing, which has been identified in economic and social development.

During his Budget Presentation, Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr. Kenny D. Anthony said that as the government cannot afford social or geographic imbalances in development, equity must prevail throughout all communities in Saint Lucia.

“Owning a home improves the quality of life. It builds self-esteem and it affords low-income families an opportunity to enhance their equity base,” Dr. Anthony said. Commencing this month, government will be implementing a credit facility to assist low-income persons in rural communities in acquiring land or in constructing their homes. Under the Low Income Housing Credit Facility, a grant will be provided to persons wishing to borrow money to build their homes or to purchase land. The borrower will be required to satisfy certain criteria, principally, a specified annual family income.
Dr. Anthony explained the project will result in the establishment of a facility made up of grant resources from the European Union and supported by loans from financial institutions. The grant will contribute to land purchase and various services and fees linked to the purchase and construction of homes.

According to Dr. Anthony, priority will be given to loans for land and to meet the payment of fees related to the construction of low-income housing. The contribution from participating financial institutions will be made as a loan to the final borrower and will be subject to the internal regulations and conditions of the lending institution. The facility will enable low-income households in rural areas to become house and land owners, eventually leading to the improvement and/or construction of about 500 houses.

Dr. Anthony said “For low-income persons who already have land, the government will provide a Grant Support of 10 per cent of the loan up to a maximum of EC$10,000.00 per borrower. The grant may be used, in order of priority, for the payment of the cost of house design, legal and registration fees, retrofitting, payment of yearly insurance premium and partial financing of the acquisition of the land. Again, I wish to emphasize that the Facility establishes a maximum grant of $10,000.00 per borrower. For those persons who do not have land, the Government will provide Grant Support of 20 per cent of the loan up to a maximum of $20,000.00 per borrower. The grant may be used to partially finance the purchase of land, up to a maximum of $10,000.00 per borrower. The additional $10,000.00 may be used to facilitate, in order of priority, the payment of the cost of house design, legal fees, retrofitting equipment and the payment of yearly insurance premiums attributed to the building of a house.”

The Government of Saint Lucia has allocated $7.6 million towards this housing credit facility. In this fiscal year, $2.0 million will be utilised and the grants and loans will be administered by approved banks, credit unions, the National Research and Development Foundation, and the Saint Lucia Mortgage and Finance Company. The list of banks and financial institutions participating in this programme will be announced by the Office of the National Authorizing Officer in a few days time.

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