Remarks by Deputy government commissioner Claudia Toet at LOI signing Tuesday 14 June, 2022 Golden Rock Resort

It’s truly an honour to be here today for this momentous occasion. It’s a matter of personal pride and satisfaction for our office because this moment has been a long time coming.

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From left to right ; Deputy Commissioner Claudia Toet and Minister for Housing and Spatial Planning Hugo de Jonge

After years of hard work on this topic, the level of commitment and togetherness that we displayed in getting to this point is nothing short of commendable. Let me say categorically how proud we are, together with the Island Council, Minister de Jonge and our partners to be taking this step together.

It is altogether fitting that we should do this.  This development is immensely important for the residents of Statia who are entitled to a dignified life in safe, properly maintained and healthy homes.

Anyone who lives here must be aware of the appalling blight that has become synonymous with social housing. Anyone who has seen the current state of social housing cannot help but recognize the need to repair and renovate these homes to make them truly livable for the residents. And anyone who needs one of these homes is familiar with the embarrassingly long wait on the waiting list.

This is a tremendous challenge for a small island where the level of poverty is an uncomfortable truth we have to face. With over half of the residents living below the poverty line, and with house rental prices rising sharply in the Caribbean Netherlands, it’s of great importance that households with a minimum income can continue to afford housing costs.

It’s imperative that we tackle poverty from different angles. We need to improve education and create employment opportunities. We need to provide necessary financial help and adopt an integrated approach for, and access to, relevant facilities and services. Many of these recommendations are contained in a report on poverty among single parents and children in the Caribbean Netherlands, presented recently by the ombudsman.

However, we must also improve the quality of the social housing pool. We are convinced that growth and development, vibrancy and productivity, self-reliance and progress, all begin with a comfortable and well-maintained home. Today’s signing is an encouraging start.

We are energized at the thought of Statia reducing poverty levels and increasing wealth.

With the upcoming financial contribution from the Netherlands, we aim to improve the living standards in Statia. This financial package will include such efforts as support for social benefits and subsidies for water, electricity and IT connections. With this support for the social housing program, we will raise the standard of living, improve the homes and take a giant step towards reducing poverty in Statia. Statia people deserve it.