Four million euro agreement signed to improve social housing in Statia
ORANJESTAD, St. Eustatius –The stage is set for a major improvement in both the quantity and quality of social housing in St. Eustatius with the signing this week of a €4 million cooperation agreement by the Public Entity St. Eustatius, the Island Council, the Ministry of Public Housing and Spatial Planning, the Statia Housing Foundation and the Dutch Housing Corporation, Bazalt Wonen.
The agreement calls for the renovation of 100 social rental homes between 2023 and 2025 and the construction of approximately 50 new homes by Bazalt Wonen. In addition, a series of by-laws will be introduced to improve affordability, including regulations to introduce subsidies, and the establishment of a rent commission.
The signatories have also agreed to explore the possibility of allowing tenants to purchase the homes they occupy if they satisfy a series of conditions that are still to be agreed.
“This agreement is an important first step towards resolving the housing problems we face here, including the less-than-ideal conditions that many who live in social homes are forced to endure, and the inordinate amount of time that applicants are made to wait before being allocated a house. It’s also testimony to what we can achieve when we put aside our individual interests and combine our individual strengths for the collective good,” said Government Commissioner Alida Francis.
“Our action today is important for the residents of Statia who are entitled to live in safe, properly maintained, and healthy homes,” added Deputy Government Commissioner Claudia Toet, who signed on behalf of the Public Entity St. Eustatius.
“With approximately 51 per cent of the residents below the poverty line and house rental prices rising sharply in the Caribbean Netherlands, it is of great importance that households with a minimum income can continue to afford housing costs. With the contributions from the Caribbean Netherlands, we will raise the standard of living and improve the homes. In combination with a good home valuation system, this group will be in a better position. I’m immensely proud that the local government, together with the Island Council, the minister and our partner are taking this step together.”
Of the estimated €4 million needed to renovate the homes, €500,000 will come from the Caribbean Netherlands 2022 housing and construction budget, with another €500,000 coming from the Caribbean Netherlands 2022 island priorities budget. Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning Hugo de Jonge has the intention to renovate the remaining 80 social houses and make funds available on condition that the Statia Housing Foundation professionalises its organisation and its board is in line with conditions set by the housing association authority
Minister de Jonge, who, along with State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalization Alexandra van Huffelen completed a three-day visit here on Wednesday, signed on behalf of the Ministry of Public Housing and Spatial Planning. The other signatories were Melissa Robins-Spanner, who signed on behalf of the Island Council; Gerrit Breeman on behalf of Bazalt Wonen and Sjudie Redan and Suzette Hassel, who represented the Statia Housing Foundation.