Georgetown, Guyana – (May 31, 2019) President David Granger, this morning, visited the Prospect and Perseverance Housing Developments, East Bank Demerara, where he assured residents that his Government's policy is “that there should be a roof over every head”.
The President said, “Every citizen should enjoy the right to housing” adding that “I would like to [demit office] …when there is not a single homeless Guyanese. Every Guyanese must have a roof over his or her head.”
The Head of State said too that housing, together with food and clothing, is an essential element of human existence while noting that his Government’s policy is rooted in Article 26 of the Constitution of Guyana which states that “Every citizen has the right to proper housing accommodation.”
“Every home, in turn, should belong to a community in which our citizens can enjoy good health, fresh air and clean water; where they walk the streets free from molestation, benefit from good roads, street lights and pavements and where their children can have access to a sound education and facilities for play and recreation. This is our vision of housing. It is an achievable vision which can lead to the good life for all,” said the President.
President Granger posited that happy homes, happy families and happy communities are the foundation of a happy country and of the good life. As such, his Government aims “to create in Guyana, a community of free citizens who own land, who own houses. We are trying to abolish homelessness; we are trying to abolish destitution…. Houses are where families live. Families are the basic cells of communities. Communities are the bases on which the country is built.”
Moreover, the Head of State said housing is important to the quality of life; it keeps families together and is necessary for the proper upbringing of children even as it adds economic value to the nation. “The housing sector creates demand for raw materials, labour and other services,” and “Guyana’s housing policy is an inseparable and integral ingredient of community development,” he said.
The principal objective of the Government’s housing policy is to encourage “accessible and affordable housing in sanitary and safe communities with the necessities for wholesome and dignified living.” Government has adopted a holistic approach to community development through the provision of basic infrastructure services such as electricity, telephones, roads, solid waste disposal and pure water supply and, also, recreational, educational and sports facilities, he stated.
President Granger stressed that it is his Government’s housing policy to ensure there is affordable and accessible housing for all and the new housing policy rests on four pillars: reorientation, resources, regularisation and regionalisation.
Reorientation, he said, refers to giving priority to the housing needs of the most vulnerable, low-income public servants desirous of becoming first-time home owners. The Head of State said too that Government’s housing policy emphasises holistic community development and will go beyond the provision of house lots and housing units. It will cater, he said, to the needs of residents including education, electricity, fire protection services, health, worship, human safety, recreation, roads, sanitation, street lights and water.
The President pointed to regularisation as part of Government’s policy. There are three types of undesirable housing, he said, stressing that “Shanties, slums and squatter settlements must be brought to an end”. Squatters who reside on reserves need to be relocated and resettled and affected persons must be provided with the option of acquiring Government housing.
“We would like to eradicate slums, squatter settlements and shanties. Let our children grow up in communities. Every child, every family should have a roof over his head,” the President said.
Regionalisation, the President said, in reference to the migration of persons out of villages and hinterland communities, creates a high demand for housing within urban centres. Because of this, he explained that Government’s new housing programme, based in part on the development of capital towns in the hinterland regions, will aim at increasing the rural and hinterland housing stock as essential public services will be provided in the capital towns. This, when coupled with the economic development of these regions, could result in reverse migration.
“Our policy of regionalisation is to create greater equality (equality of access) across Guyana so that the people living east of the Essequibo will enjoy similar conditions to those living west of the Essequibo. That Guyanese everywhere will have a roof over their heads. I will not neglect rural areas; I will not neglect hinterland areas. If we want to improve the quality of life, we have to improve the quality of housing,” President Granger asserted.
The Head of State said his Government’s involvement in housing development over the past two decades revolved principally around the sale and allocation of house lots to individuals and the divestment of lands to private housing developers. This policy, he stressed, has failed to satisfy the demand for housing.
Meanwhile, the President congratulated the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) for the work to date in providing housing to those in need. He told those gathered at Perseverance, that the country’s housing sector is going in the right direction and he wants to ensure that poor and vulnerable persons have access to lands.
“This land must not be the subject of speculation by a few rich people; it must be the subject of settlement by many poor people,” he stressed.
President Granger’s first visit to the two housing developments was facilitated by the Ministry of Communities, CH&PA. The Head of State was met on arrival by Minister of Communities, Mr. Ronald Bulkan; Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Ms. Annette Ferguson; CH&PA Chairman, Apostle Elsworth Williams and CH&PA Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Lelon Saul, Chief Executive Officer, CH& PA.
During his visit to the two new communities, the President toured several houses and was invited into a few that are occupied. The Perseverance Housing Development has some 517 house lots including a commercial strip.