Residents of the emergency housing scheme in Foga Pond in Sucker Garden may soon become home owners if leader of the One St. Maarten Peoples Party Lenny Priest has his way. The OSPP leader forwarded a letter to Minister Angel Meyers on July 2, 2016 proposing that he instructs the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation to sell the emergency homes in the Foga Pond in Sucker Garden.
“It is twenty one years later since St. Maarten was destroyed by hurricane Luis and those tenants have been paying rent to the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation ever since. The price for those homes should be the same amount that were charged to the tenants for the purchase of the government homes in South Reward in 1994, namely; U.S. $ 10,000.00. We strongly believe that negotiation should commence also with the private landowners where the other emergency homes are constructed in the Keys in Sucker Garden, Dutch Quarter and Cole Bay to purchase those lands. This would allow the government to sell those homes also to the tenants occupying them now perhaps at a slightly higher price. We know that many tenants are ready and able to purchase these emergency homes on the government as well as on the private land. The same goes for the tenants occupying the duplexes in Belvedere, they want to own these homes,” Lenny Priest stated in a press release.
He noted that for twenty one years—since hurricane Luis in 1995—“our people have been paying rent” for those emergency homes in two locations in Sucker Garden, Dutch Quarter and Cole Bay. These homes were imported from Venezuela to re-locate people who after hurricane Luis were placed in the infamous container village. “Prior to that, in 1994 the then government took a decision to sell the government houses that are located in South Reward. Those homes were built in 1975 on government land and some nineteen years later were sold to the tenants occupying them at that moment. Those tenants had to make sure that their rent was up to date and they were charged U.S. $ 10,000.00 to purchase the homes. Today we see many proud St. Maarteners occupying those homes as this has been our way of life from generation to generation,” Priest said.
On February 13, 2016 the OSPP also sent a letter to Minister Meyers requesting that he informs the general public of his government’s policy regarding the sales of those emergency homes and the duplexes in Belvedere. “Unfortunately, to date we have not received a reply to the many questions and concerns we raised about the sales of the emergency homes and the duplexes in Belvedere,” Priest explained, adding “the OSPP wants to assure the general public and in particular the tenants of the emergency homes in the various districts and the tenants of the duplexes in Belvedere that under an OSPP government we will sell you those homes at affordable prices.” According to the OSPP leader, “Housing is of utmost important to the OSPP and other than selling the emergency homes and the duplexes we will build an additional 100 low income homes within the first two years in office. This is not a promise it is guaranteed. St. Maarten needs a Fresh Start. The OSPP vouches to sell the Emergency Homes, the duplexes in Belvedere and to build some 100 affordable low income homes for our people over the next two years.”