No tolerance

No tolerance

That a full renovation of 64 apartments at “The Towers” in Belvedere may be completed before Christmas (see Monday paper) was obviously good news for the inhabitants, but also others in the area, St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) and the entire community. After all, this generally concerns low-to-middle income earners who don’t have it easy.
The US $5.5 million reconstruction job is being implemented by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) with means from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund under management of the World Bank. The six buildings severely damaged during Hurricane Irma in September 2017 have been reinforced to better withstand storm systems, while the units will be provided with durable, low-maintenance bathrooms and kitchens. Residents had to vacate during the work, but NRPB helped them relocate and paid rent as well as other expenses on their behalf.
The lack of affordable living accommodations remains a serious problem in the country. Another US $20 million from the Trust Fund had earlier been earmarked for an undetermined social homes project, but nothing more was heard and – if still valid – it would be good to learn more about what, where and when.
Continued cooperation with SMHDF that was perhaps a bit strained after the agency’s own request for money from the Trust Fund to build more units had not been honoured is very important in this sense. For example, experts from the World Bank helped upgrade the organisation’s financial administration.
Other homes in Belvedere are undergoing repairs too, but all this only works when everyone involved complies with their commitment and responsibility to pay the rent. It should not be so that this is often neglected just because this regards public housing, because that undermines the entire system and ultimately leads to undesirable, costly legal evictions.
A long waiting list of people in need of affordable homes exists, so there should be no tolerance for delinquency.

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