THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine and Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development Trevor James address residents during a town hall meeting in Calder Hall on July 4. – Photo courtesy THA
The Tobago House of Assembly is exploring ways to assist young people to access mortgages for homes, as THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has noted that housing remains a challenge across the island.
Augustine, addressing Tuesday’s THA town hall meeting at the Calder Hall Multi-purpose Facility, called on commercial banks to work with the Assembly, noting that it is incredibly difficult for young Tobagonians to own homes and lands on the island.
He said it would take an individual or couple a minimum salary of $20,000 for one to qualify for a mortgage at $1.7 million, adding that by the time people are able to meet the requirements, they would not have time on their side.
“What the banks are essentially saying is that you need more than the average salary of the average person on the island to qualify for the average cost of a home. Which means that you are forced to couple up if it is you have to afford a home. We have a lot more people aging and when you see yourself and others getting towards 40 years-old and you’re inching past the 40, and when you look at the number of years you have remaining to service a long-term loan, then the window is closing.”
He said he has since met with all the commercial banks on the island including TT Mortgage and Finance Co Ltd (TTMF) and challenged them to take a chance on 100 young professionals.
“If I provide at no cost to the young professionals a piece of land, can the bank convert that into a collateral and give that young person the financing to build their own home. We’re just starting with 100 to see how it would work – we get the land, we subdivide the land, put the public infrastructure in place and we say to you, ‘hey look this land in your name.’ We give you a long-term lease, go to the bank and let’s see if the bank will fund you to build your own home.’ You now have a piece of land in your name that you did not have before.”
He is hoping that banks will take up the challenge soon. Speaking specifically about the Scarborough/Mt Grace electoral district, he said when the demographic of the area was looked at, there were quite a number of young people who he said should be living in decent homes.
“We have people, we have families living in existing homes that require a lot of help in terms of safety and a dignified way of living.”
The suggestion found favour with the district’s village council Candace Nichols.
“It is a very good idea. As you said, there would be meeting surrounding those discussions and all of that – as the president, I would also like myself and some of the executives to sit in on some of those meetings to have a little say.”