Harbour View Village formally opened
Government lottery winner Joanne Wellman says she’s “loving the space” at her dream home after sharing a bedroom with her son at her dad’s house for six years.
The mom says she “just can’t stop smiling” as she walks around admiring her new two-bedroom apartment at the Harbour View Village in St David’s.
Ms Wellman was one of the lucky families to be given the keys to their new homes at the official opening of the low-cost housing development at Southside this weekend.
The housing lottery was launched more than five years ago to help struggling Bermudians get a foot on the housing ladder, giving winners the opportunity to purchase affordable homes for $199,000.
Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess welcomed the new homeowners into 58 of the 86 units saying they would be “the envy of most in the East End” as they “would now be enjoying some of the best pristine water views Bermuda has to offer”.
Mr Burgess said they may not have been able to afford home ownership if they hadn’t been successful in the lottery draw.
The four buildings on the former military base contain two-, three- and four-bedroomed units. Each building is named after prominent St David’s Islanders; businessman Arthur Pitcher, deputy pilot warden and cricketer Harold Millett, school principal Hilton C Richardson and Constance Mello, minister of evangelism with St Luke’s church for 55 years.
Ms Wellman, who moved into her new home last month, said she “absolutely loved” how much space her and her son, Pjon, 14, now had.
She said: “It’s beautiful, it’s so much more than I expected, I love it. I’ve been living with my dad and sharing a room with my son for six-and-a-half years.
“It’s lovely to have my own room and just to have space. I’m so grateful for the lottery process, I’m so thankful that I finally have my own place.”
Ms Wellman, who works at the post office, said she was told she was a lottery winner in 2005 and she’d been driving past Harbour View Village “waiting for it to be finished” ever since.
She said: “I couldn’t wait, it was still being built, but I’d drive by and have a look. I just had faith that it would happen.
“Now I’m here and it’s been worth the wait. It’s a great little community to live, everyone gets along great.”
Environment Minister Walter Roban said the first phase had been completed on budget although they had experienced their “fair share of hurdles”.
Government took over the project from Bermuda Homes for People in 2005 and work began in May 2007.
But the unexpected discovery of a 540,000-gallon underground storage tank containing oil and sludge left by the American military delayed building work and cost half a million dollars to remove.
Mr Roban said: “More than housing, this project represents genuine economic empowerment another demonstration of this Government’s unwavering commitment to making homes available to first time homeowners at prices that are simply unavailable in the ordinary marketplace”.
As a plane took off from nearby L.F Wade International Airport, Mr Roban added that the plane was a “symbol of what’s taking off” at Harbour View Village.
He said: “We’re not just blowing hot air out the back of anything. We are talking about real bricks and mortar.”
Scores of Harbour View Village residents came out for the ribbon-cutting celebration on Saturday, which included entertainment by the H&H Gombey Troupe and refreshments.
The first building, Richardson Manor, opened in March this year and since then, families have been gradually moving into their new homes.
The grounds are maintained by Hustle Truck workers.
Mr Roban added: “There have been numerous occasions when this project could have fallen through due to a lack of funding, and various site challenges.
“But we were not deterred and sought every means to bring the project to fruition, knowing the importance for the Bermudian families who had been chosen in the lottery and were looking forward to owning their little ‘piece of the rock’.”
He said that BHC continues to offer “hand-ups rather than handouts” by ensuring “safe, comfortable and affordable housing is available to all Bermudians in need”.
It currently houses 628 people through various programmes, including owned properties, private sector rentals, rooming houses and emergency housing.