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Work still needed to deal with housing in the Caribbean — study

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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WASHINGTON, United States (CMC)— A study examining the state of social housing in six Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries has found that while regional countries have made great strides in the housing sector, there's still much work to be done to bring these initiatives to scale given the region's growing housing deficit and urbanisation rate.

The study titled “The State of Social Housing in Six Caribbean Countries” reviews the implementation of social housing programmes from 2000 to 2015 in The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said that the period studied encompasses the emergence of neighbourhood upgrading programmes, increasing urbanisation, and the integration of environmental sustainability into housing programmes, especially those in vulnerable coastal areas.

“The report underscores the importance of housing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the larger agenda in poverty alleviation, economic development, and climate resilience.”

According to the 117 page report written by Michael G Donovan and Pauline McHardy, Caribbean countries have made great strides in the housing sector and have experimented with new models of social housing policy.

They said regional governments have pursued new programmes to encourage private sector involvement and investment in social housing through a number of incentives, including revolving low-income housing funds for the construction of new housing units and granting blocks of land to private developers to build social housing.

“In addition, many Caribbean countries have adopted the concept of incremental housing and have developed programmes to respond to the qualitative as well as the quantitative housing deficit,” they wrote, adding that the information collected in the report has offered guidance in creating, implementing, and monitoring future social housing policies.

But they noted 'despite these efforts, work remains to be done to bring these initiatives to scale given the region's growing housing deficit and urbanisation rate.”

The report illustrates that the challenge of social housing provision is compounded by other issues in the Caribbean, including the increasing cost and limited availability of land, which underscores the need for more efficient urban land markets as well as limited access to secondary mortgage markets.

It also makes references to the insecurity of tenure and complexities surrounding regularization; vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change; and insufficient efforts to induce the private sector to serve a much larger segment of the market.


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