$15,000 in cheques given for home improvements

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Centre Minister in Ministry of Housing and Urban Development with Hermian Smart-Findlay Manager in Housing Programme Facilitation and Implementation Unit with recipients at the Home Improvement Grant Cheque Distribution Ceremony at Large Conference Room in HDC Port of Spain on June 5. – Photo by Josette Nicole Deonanan

On June 5, 25 people received cheques worth $15,000 each under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development’s Home Improvement Grant Programme.

The grant programme, established in 2004, aims to improve housing conditions by offering financial assistance for critical repairs.

Manager of the Housing Programme Facilitation and Implementation Unit Hermian Smart-Findlay said, “This programme allows us to transform lives across various communities.”

She noted higher application rates from south and central regions and urged recipients to deposit their cheques promptly.

Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Adrian Leonce elaborated on the programme’s broader significance, saying, “Home is where the heart is. Our homes are more than just physical structures; they are the sanctuaries where we find solace, the spaces where dreams are nurtured, and the environments where our future generations are raised.”

Leonce said the 25 beneficiaries, from northwest Trinidad, represented a larger group of 342, who will receive their first- and second-tranche cheques in the coming weeks.

“These recipients hail from diverse communities such as Champs Fleurs, Santa Cruz, Laventille, Diego Martin, Morvant, Trincity, Belmont, Cascade and Port of Spain.”

Leonce emphasised the collective effort required for national development.

“As we move forward, let us be reminded that it takes a united effort to build a nation. Every repaired roof, every new window, every upgraded facility for a person with disabilities – these are not just improvements to a structure, but investments in the future of our communities.”

The programme aims to achieve several key objectives: improving the national housing stock, enhancing living and social conditions, beautifying neighbourhoods, and supporting annual repairs.

He said there would be a $12 million allocation for 2024, intended to assist 800 families.

In fiscal 2023, 762 families were supported at a cost of $11.43 million.

Leonce stressed the importance of proper fund usage and documentation maintenance.

The grant covers a range of improvements, including adding or improving indoor bathroom and toilet facilities, plumbing and electrical works, roof and ceiling repairs, converting earthen floors and wooden structures to concrete, installing burglar-proofing doors, and windows, improving facilities for the disabled, upgrading to reduce overcrowding and installing bedroom and kitchen cupboards.

Applicants are randomly selected from a database, verified through interviews and must provide supporting documents and repair cost estimates.

Funds are disbursed in two stages: 50 per cent at the start and 50 per cent after half the repairs are completed. Ministry technical officers ensure compliance with approved works through site visits.

Victor Corridor from Laventille, a recipient, plans to use the funds for roof repairs.

He commented, “The process was lengthy, but I feel relieved, excited, and grateful for the opportunity.

“We had termites affecting the structure of our roof and I can’t wait to put this cheque to use to have that fixed.”

To be eligible for the programme, applicants must be citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, aged 21 and over, with a monthly household income not exceeding $5,000.

They must show proof of legal tenure or permission to occupy and must not have previously benefited from a similar programme.