Minister Lake says Public Housing needs to be restructured by holding those accountable for lack of action

Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake, says the current functioning of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) leaves a lot to be desired and needs to be restructured.

“I have been able for the past 12 months to meet with the board and management of SMHDF, but there hasn’t been any change coming for the tenants. Even though government subsidizes the foundation, government has no influence. Government cannot tell the foundation what to do, but can only recommend.

“I continue to receive complaints from tenants that nothing is being done to upkeep the homes that they live in. And the lack of maintenance goes back years from what I have been told. I have seen it for myself as well, and I am wondering why things have to take so long? There are a lot of grievances amongst the tenants,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Wednesday.

Minister Lake says that there is a tremendous backlog in maintenance totaling Naf.7 million for the Belvedere housing development alone.

The Minister said that he will invite the SMHDF to a meeting to resolve what issues exists within the body, because those suffering currently are the tenants.

“I have spoken about this before. The Belvedere Housing and Tenants Association BHOTA are still waiting to appoint a representative to the board of SMHDF. The association also has a role to play and needs to step up to SMHDF because they represent the tenants. Why is the appointment taking so long? If there are internal frictions within the housing foundation, get those ironed out, who needs to go, should resign.

“You are not serving the people, the tenants as they should be served. They are not getting the services that they should be receiving. I attended a BHOTA meeting in Belvedere several months ago and heard the cries of the tenants.

“The SMHDF has approved monies for painting and repairs of the homes, but nothing is happening. Why? The board needs to instruct management to carry out these approved projects.

“As Minister I can only recommend to management and recommend to the board and give my ideas, but change has to come to the benefit of the tenants and my energies will be focused on this approach,” Minister Maurice Lake pointed out on Wednesday.

The approach the Minister envisions is a housing policy with checks and balances and a performance agreement with respect to the board and management.

“I have already instructed my Cabinet to start working on a policy. It will be an effective housing policy with a back to basics approach with a clear path from vision to an execution-able plan of action, and holding those accountable for non-performance. The current situation is unacceptable,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake concluded.