SMHDF sets the record straight on Foga Development, Cole Bay Relocation & Emergency homes

The St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) has been very busy with a number of new and ongoing projects, but we felt it was important to address the insinuations and baseless allegations being reported in the media by persons vying for Political office and choosing to use propaganda as campaigning material.


In response to two articles published in the Daily Herald on Monday; September 23 one; by a reporter of the ‘trusted’ newspaper and the other by the founder of the ‘OSPP’ One St. Maarten People’s Party.

In regards to ‘Foga’ SMHDF would hereby like to confirm that this project was initiated under the Heyliger Ministry for the purpose of constructing social homes, however after much deliberation it was agreed upon by then ministry, board and management of the SMHDF to develop duplex homes for sale. The initiative of continuity taken by the Marlin ministry to expedite the infrastructure was done to enable SMHDF to develop the thirty six (36) duplex homes, which would have been offered in a unique "SMHDF lease to own Program". So we were very much disappointed when the current minister took a decision to discontinue the infrastructure work on this much needed project. Persons with consumer loans would have benefitted most from this project; as every lease payment made would have gone towards purchasing the home, an empty promise made by several politicians over the last 16 years and delivered finally by the current management of the SMHDF.

"The emergency homes in Cole Bay were delivered as the name suggest, in an emergency right after residents were displaced by a hurricane in 1997. Since then, the foundation has been faced with many challenges with these Venezuelan manufactured homes; namely plumbing, electrical, condensation etc. All two hundred (200) homes donated by the Queen were placed on private land with the exception of the twenty-four (24) in Foga and the eight (8) in South Reward. Over the past 16 years, the land lease/value has doubled while the rental prices of Nafls 387 (US$215) has remained the same from 1997 up to date, which is the fundamental problem. We do not fault the landowners for requesting the removal of the homes as they currently are not benefitting financially from this arrangement.

So after receiving the notice to vacate the premises, the SMHDF immediately began the process of a Compliance Investigation to determine which tenants still qualify for said dwellings. The investigation showed that many tenants, more than 50%, had acquired land, had increased salaries and improved earning power, but despite all of this are refusing to give up the Emergency Home which could provide an affordable living for someone else in a lesser position, just because the low monthly rent of Naf 387.

Additionally, SMHDF is looking to acquire free hold property on which they can relocate all 24 homes with improved infrastructure, while still maintaining the basic rental fee of Nafls 387, a venture which is impossible given the fact that land price is now over USD$100 per square meter. Management has fought off current Ministerial pressure to acquire property from his associates for undisclosed amounts which would have increased Emergency Home rents to over Nafls 900.

SMHDF finds it ‘simply amazing’ that reincarnated politicians who promises change would maliciously write an article or letter to the ministry regarding an issue so dear to us. The mobile Homes were delivered before Mr. Priest’s last term in office, so if Mr. Priest was genuinely interested in resolving a ‘Safety Problem’, he could have simply requested a meeting with the new management of the Foundation on this 16- year-old problem. Had he done that, he would have found out that instructions were given to subordinates, since January 2011 to grant the installation of second doors in all 200 mobile homes, a task which was neglected until the Quality Assurance officer was recruited in May of this year.

SMHDF absorbed the cost of the door (Nafl 774) which equates to two months’ rent per unit, leaving the tenant with the task of simply covering the installation cost, which amounts to Nafl 144 or USD$80.

Like many, Mr. Priest might claim the Director of SMHDF; Henry Lynch is difficult to get in contact with, a claim vehemently Lynch denied stating ‘I am not hard to reach or to get in contact with, since just a few months ago Mr. Priest found me very easily when he tried to recruit me to join his party (which by the way I declined).

I want to publicly request that while postulating and campaigning for political office, something that I, Henry Lynch is not interested in, despite several offers, the long abandoned now revived Foundation; the SMHDF, should be left out of all propaganda and not be used as a scapegoat as we; Management and Board strive to maintain a level of professionalism, transparency and fairness in the way we conduct business with our community and clients."