PHILIPSBURG:— Former Prime Minister and National Alliance candidate for the upcoming parliamentary election, William Marlin says housing in the reconstruction phase of the country, will be one of the top priorities that the party will continue to focus on in the new governing period.
Marlin said in a press release on Monday that the urgent need for proper and affordable housing and the improvement of communities have become clearer as the various communities are canvassed.
Making affordable housing available for persons to own their own homes and proving economical options for persons interested in renting are areas that the party will continue to build on.
“The National Alliance will focus quite a bit on making homes available for our people to purchase and for that quite some work needs to be done because presently too many of our people are on contracts and don’t qualify for mortgages at the bank to get an opportunity in their young age to purchase a home with a mortgage of 30 to 35 years so that when they reach the age of retirement, they are not saddled with the problem of still having to pay a mortgage or a high rent”.
Marlin said former National Alliance Minister of VROMI Christophe Emmanuel had engaged in talks with property owners with the intention of developing properties in a public/private partnership for persons to be able to purchase their own homes. The design was to have included a project specifically for homes for senior citizens. The idea, he explained, is that through cross-subsidizing, the profits garnered from developing homes and selling them can be used to offset expenses incurred for developing homes for seniors. The intention is for seniors, who never had an opportunity to own their own homes in their younger years, to pay as low as 50 guilders per month for housing and not be saddled with hefty rental bills. “We cannot expect seniors to rent an apartment for $500 and $600 per month”, he said adding that the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation can make this possible.
Additionally, the intention is to also come up with projects to develop homes for persons who want to rent. In addition to the many local persons interested in this option, Marlin said the country has a large migrant community of persons such as, for example, teachers who come to the country on contracts, teach for a few years and return to their native countries. These persons, he said, have no intentions of purchasing homes as they have no intentions of remaining in St. Maarten, but they need affordable quality homes to rent.
The need to develop communities with facilities such as playgrounds in each district and in each community development project as well as community centres in each district, are also necessary.
Marlin said developing housing is something that comes naturally with the National Alliance, as the party had established the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation; developed the housing project in Belvedere after hurricane Luis in 1995, constructed 200 emergency homes spread out in different communities (a project he spearheaded as a National Alliance Commissioner); and secured the funding for the construction of apartments in the Hope Estate area. National Alliance had also purchased land for the construction of different community centres around the country.
“It is important to offer citizens the opportunity to have quality housing. We will construct homes so that middle-income earners and young professionals can purchase their own homes as well as rental homes and we will also look at the further development of our neighborhoods – the construction of community centres in different districts and secure land for infrastructural development in various communities”.
“Housing is a basic need whether you are a young professional, a couple that is just married, a business owner, a middle-income earner, a senior citizen or someone with special needs. We all have the right to proper and affordable housing. Providing housing requires land transfers and proper infrastructure to realize the sustainable development of our different communities”, Marlin stressed. “The SMHDF and public/private partnerships play an important role in the realization of these affordable housing projects and in the communities that they’re in”.