Beautiful Virgin Islands

Too pricey! Decision needed on Joe’s Hill social housing issue

Too pricey! Decision needed on Joe’s Hill social housing issue

Minister for Social Development Marlon Penn said he felt there was a need for a closer look at the housing initiative in Joe’s Hill which was expected to deliver affordable housing for some residents of the territory.
The government last year completed a $26 million construction project to facilitate first-time homeowners at its Joe’s Hill Manor housing development in what some felt was an affordable housing initiative at the time.

However, it was later realised that many of the homes proved unaffordable and thus out of reach of the pockets of applicants and intended beneficiaries.

Although the intention of the programme was to facilitate first-time homeowners, Penn said it was discovered that the market-rate price points for the homes proved to be a challenge for many of the applicants.

“Though the price points are market-rate — it’s in line with what the market is saying that a house of that size or that magnitude would cost — we’re finding it difficult for persons to get a loan to purchase those [homes],” the Minister said.

“I think a lot of the problem is the initial capital that persons have to come up with,” Penn added. “Many persons might have the income level to be able to pay the mortgage, but they don’t have the liquidity — the savings to pay the down payment.”

Penn said a decision must now be made on whether the homes will continue to be restricted to first-time homeowners or whether it will be expanded to other buyers.

“At the end of the day, it’s the pensioners’ monies that’s tied up in this investment and that money has to go back to the pensioners and the investment,” the Minister said.

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley recently opined that the government needs to look at creating affordable housing for residents and conceded that the Joe’s Hill project would prove ‘quite expensive’ for persons seeking affordable housing opportunities.

The Joe’s Hill Housing development has 25 buildings, comprising 52 residential units plus commercial rental space.

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