SIMPSON BAY–The delegations of the Parliaments of the Netherlands, Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten, gathered at Simpson Bay Resort and Marina for the bi-annual Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultations IPKO, were updated on the housing situation before and after the Hurricanes Irma and Maria and on the sanitary landfill.
Initially a work visit to the dump was planned on Wednesday, but instead Department Head of Infrastructure at the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Claudius Buncamper made a presentation.
Prior to his presentation, VROMI Minister Miklos Giterson introduced the ministry’s Secretary General Louis Brown, who provided a global overview of housing in St. Maarten before and after Irma.
Brown said the hurricane damaged 70 to 80 per cent of available housing in St. Maarten. He said the current demand for housing is double the supply. He said the current waiting list for housing almost doubled to 3,000 candidates immediately after Irma.
According to Brown, the social-housing stock in St. Maarten consists of 200 emergency homes, 470 homes in Belvedere and 94 in Hope Estate.
He said that prior to Irma, there were projects for the construction of 28 new homes in Cole Bay, 32 in Sucker Garden, 48 in Upper Prince’s Quarter and 24 in Defiance, plus 24 senior homes; however, the plans fell through due to the hurricane.
Currently, St. Maarten counts 19,000 housing units, approximately 60 per cent of which are rentals. Predominantly, this concerns single-family detached homes.
St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) manages 769 homes for people with an income below NAf. 3,500, which means that roughly half of St. Maarten’s households are eligible for social housing, Brown stated.
The Secretary General said that home repairs and addressing social-housing needs, including those of the so-called “hidden homeless,” require NAf. 508,3 million.
He said St. Maarten National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) involves NAf. 2 billion in total. “Additional funding needs to be sought,” he said.
An assessment of the housing sector to identify key constraints to the housing supply and demand, and a sustainable business model for SMHDF were among concrete actions mentioned by Brown. He said the foundation’s financial situation is fragile which leaves little room for investment due to rising maintenance cost and a backlog in rental payments.
He referred to the roof repair programmes carried out by various organisations among which were United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), St. Maarten Development Foundation (SMDF) and a number of non-governmental organisations.
He said that in June 2018 a World Bank project was signed for the reparation of 14 homes. Brown said housing is the top priority project of the Dutch Association of Municipalities VNG International.
Buncamper provided the IPKO delegates with an update on garbage management in St. Maarten at this moment and in the future. He said that St. Maarten wants to put an end to the current situation in which the collection of garbage is free of charge and wants to go to sorting garbage “at the curb.”
The current landfilling will have to be replaced by a system of material recycling, product reuse and prevention, and possible energy conversion such as by means of a waste-to-energy plant.
The landfill has to be covered and closed, whereas 350,000 tonnes of garbage need to be removed and shipped to the Netherlands, Buncamper explained. He said an in-depth analysis for a long-term strategy for waste management will be conducted by the World Bank this year.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/84361-ipko-delegates-updated-on-housing-and-landfill