Major steps have been taken in the past year in realizing more affordable homes and reducing the cost of housing on Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. This is clear from the first Progress Report of the Social Housing and Physical Development Policy Agenda for the Caribbean Netherlands which caretaker State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen sent to the Second Chamber Monday, January 15, 2024. The progress reports shows the developments per island since the start of the implementation of the policy agenda early this year.
Increasing the standard of living and eradicating poverty on Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are important goals for the National Government and the Public Entities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. An affordable home is an important part of a decent livelihood. That is why these parties make a joint effort to construct more affordable homes and to reduce the cost of housing for people with the lowest incomes. A new physical development programme will better protect the islands’ uniqueness and beauty, both on land and in the sea.
On Saba, the signed Letter of Intent involves, among other things, the developing of 50 affordable rental and private homes. In addition, 1.2 million euros was made available for the accelerated construction of 18 social homes by the housing corporation Bazalt Wonen in the Under the Hill-2 project. These homes will be completed in the first quarter of 2024.
Saba has a strong tradition of building one’s own home. However, the costs associated with the preparatory construction works are very high and often not covered in a mortgage. A new regulation will be prepared under which people can receive a contribution to finance preparatory construction works to build their own home. Examples are excavation works and the construction of the cistern, the septic tank and the foundation of a new home.
The realized rental costs reduction in the social housing sector on Saba amounts to an average of $158 per month per household. To alleviate energy poverty, the National Government has made 360,000 euros available to reduce housing costs. This money will be used to disburse energy-saving appliances such as fridges, freezers and stoves to people with the lowest incomes.
Foundation has been laid
The 2023 Progress Report shows that a lot has happened in the first year of the execution of the Social Housing and Physical Development Policy Agenda. The basis is there: the course as to the content has been set, the financial means have been made available and the execution capacity can be arranged. People are also able to send a reaction to the physical development programme Caribbean Netherlands until February 2024.
An amount of $408.000 of so-called flex pool means was made available on all three islands to strengthen the government capacity for social housing and physical development. The caretaker National Government and the Executive Councils of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba in 2024 will keep working together on affordable and decent housing for the people.