Government announces $21m plan to renovate older homes
More than $21 million is to be spent renovating older homes to increase the amount of affordable housing, MPs were told yesterday.
Delivering a statement to MPs, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said that the Cabinet had approved the first phase of a new housing initiative — the renovation of 137 housing units owned by the Bermuda Housing Corporation.
Colonel Burch said 60 of the units were occupied and that the remaining 77 were out of service and would be added as new units to the BHC inventory. Work is needed to bring the homes up to the relevant building codes.
“The total cost of the programme is estimated at $21.6 million and will be spread over the next three-and-a-half fiscal years — with an initial $4.25 million capital grant set to be given to the BHC forthwith for the commencement of the programme. The remaining funds will be requested through the relevant year’s budgetary process.
“To be more fiscally prudent in the completion of the programme, the Cabinet also waived all customs duty fees associated with the importation of goods required with an estimated savings of $3.24 million.”
• For a studio apartment — $1,100 to $1,800 per month
• For a one bedroom apartment — $1,500-$2,000 per month
• For a two bedroom apartment — $2,200-$3,000 per month
• For a three bedroom apartment — $3,200-$5,000 per month
The minister said the corporation operates 700 residential rental units and is at maximum capacity with a waiting list of 129 families — “a list that is ever increasing”.
He said that since January, the BHC had renovated 17 homes with another 13 units under renovation.
The minister added that next phase of a plan to increase affordable housing would include development in the Hamilton Economic Empowerment Zone and the construction of affordable units for sale and the expansion of the private sector rental programme.
“This programme allows for privately owned units to be rented to the Bermuda Housing Corporation — with guaranteed rent and intervention by the corporation when tenants do not honour their commitment.
“The rates are less than market rates but the rent is guaranteed to be paid on time and the unit returned to its original state at the conclusion of the tenancy.”
"This Government realises that this is not nearly enough to address the aforementioned waiting list. Honourable colleagues in the chamber today and the listening public shall already be acutely aware housing prices, mortgage interest rates and rental prices have been on a continuous rise worldwide.
"There is no denying that our island has an extremely high cost of living — routinely in the Top 5 in the world.
"Do we expect families to pay these exorbitant rates in comparison to their monthly income just to have a roof over their head, while in addition paying high utility bills (energy, internet and phone), high fuel costs and paying the ever-increasing grocery costs to simply survive in a modern world?
“The simple answer is no … this administration does not expect hardworking families to live in this manner — without help from their government.”