PHILIPSBURG:—-The tenants of the Belvedere and the emergency homes have been complaining about the harsh treatment they have been receiving from the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation. Since 1995 those emergency homes were constructed for those citizens that were left homeless after the passing of Hurricane Luis. However, no one would have believed that after so many complaints by the tenants for over 21 years that these homes still have one door. This situation at these homes is dangerous and is waiting for some major fire to break out and lives are lost. This is unacceptable and especially since these homes are owned by a government foundation that should be leading by example. All the foundation rules are enforced when a tenant falls in arrear with his rent which most of the time leads to eviction. We expect the government to enforce their building codes and instruct the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation to install a second door in the back of these homes at their expense.
We have also learnt that the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation is charging the tenants a monthly maintenance fee of 10% of the monthly rent. A tenant is also required to pay three months deposit when signing a rental contract with one month non-refundable. All of these regulations are putting a tremendous financial burden on our people and forcing many of them to apply for a loan to meet these demands. Above and beyond these rules the tenants are required to install their own light fixtures, bulbs and cabinets and when leaving either remove them or leave them behind without being compensated.
The OSPP has forwarded a letter to the Minister of VROMI, Mr. Angel Meyers asking him to explain to the general public what is the government policy on housing in particular the emergency and the Belvedere homes? We also want to know why the Vorst Estate was not transferred to the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation for one guilder to build homes for our young professionals. The core business of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation is the development of properties for rent and for sale. Can the government explain if the subsidy policy for the Belvedere homes is still available to the tenants?
Some of the duplexes in Belvedere have been sold in the past and many tenants are stating that they were told that after living in the homes for a certain amount of years those homes will be sold to them. Is that a true statement? If yes, when will the government commence will selling those duplexes and the emergency homes to the occupants?
In the last year and a half there have been a lot of reports in the media about the management and the supervisory board of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation. During that time the Managing Director and others were sent home. Has a new Managing Director been appointed to the foundation? Is the Supervisory Board complete and who are those members?
We can’t continue operating this very important foundation in this manner. A large proponent of the cost of living is rent and we need to address this housing issue without any further delay.
Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning,
Environment and Infrastructure,
The Government Administration Building
Clem Labega Square
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Attention: Mr. Angel Meyers
Minister of VROMI
Dear Mr. Minister Angel Meyers,
It is very unfortunate that after twenty one (21) years the homes that were constructed for those persons that were mostly affected by Hurricane Luis in 1995 to date still have one door. This has been brought to the attention of many of our Ministers of VROMI since St. Maarten attained the status of Country within the Dutch Kingdom. Some one would expect that our government would lead by example and correct this situation within the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation. Or are we to wait until a major disaster takes place such as a fire and lives are lost before this situation is corrected? Can we for once be pro-active and addressed this issue before it is too late?
We would also appreciate if the Minister can inform the general public what is this government policy regarding the sales of those emergency homes and the duplexes in Belvedere? Many tenants in Belvedere are indicating that during the time they begun leasing those homes they were told that in due time they would be sold to them. In the past the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation began selling some of those duplexes. How many duplexes were sold and why those duplexes and not others? Are the plans of this government to continue selling those duplexes, given first preference to those tenants who are presently occupying them and that the moneys paid to date in rent would be subtracted from the selling price? It is important that the tenants know in advance in order to make the necessary financial arrangements with their banks.
We have also noticed that the maintenance on those homes is very poor and leaves a whole lot to be desire. However, what is very striking to us is the fact that the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation is charging the tenants ten percent (10%) of their rent as a maintenance fee and a third deposit that is non-refundable. How can these homes be referred to as affordable when our people in many cases need to obtain a loan in order to sign the lease because of these draconian rental policies. They are given short notice from one day to the other to come up with the money otherwise the home is given to another person. Wouldn’t you consider this an abuse and total lack of respect towards our hard working citizens who want the best for their family? It is also unheard of that tenants when moving into these homes must install their own cabinets, light fixtures, bulbs and when leaving can either remove them or leave them without being compensated for them. Many of the tenants are complaining about the termites that eating up the place and when complaining to the foundation, they receive no type of satisfaction. The tenants who are living there for a long time feel as if the foundation wants them out even though they are in good standing. This is due to the fact that the foundation feels that the rent they are paying is very low. The OSPP also wants to know if the subsidy policy is still into effect for the tenants of Belvedere and if the one year contract is automatically renewed?
The OSPP wants to know who the members are of the board of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation. Is all the Supervisory Board positions filled according to the articles of the foundation? If not, why not?
Is it the intention of this government to have the position of Chief Executive Officer (Managing Director) of the foundation filled within short? If not, why not? Or is the government satisfied with the Interim Management team that is leading the foundation at this moment? If yes, who are the members of the Interim Management and for how long are they appointed and by whom if the board is incomplete?
The OSPP also wants to know why the Vorst Estate was not transferred to the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation for a symbolic guilder in order for them to build the low income homes for the young professionals. After all, the core business of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation is the development of properties for rent and for sale.
The OSPP wants to thank you in advance and look forward to you addressing these very serious issues affecting our people.
One St. Maarten People Party
Lenny F. Priest
Cc: Members of Parliament
Source: St. Martin News Network Government policy on the emergency and Belvedere homes.