Housing Minister Randall Mitchell says the Housing Development Corporation’s home distribution drive is not an election ploy, as the Opposition has charged. Speaking at a Presentation of Keys Ceremony held at Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies in Valsayn, Mitchell said that his Ministry and the HDC were merely delivering the service they were changed with.
Since the announcement of a “1,000 new houses by the end of December” was made a little over a week ago, Mitchell and the HDC have faced heavy criticism from former Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and other Opposition members. To this Mitchell said: “Since my announcement (at a similar key distribution function, National Academy for the Performing Arts’ South campus, San Fernando), those opposed to us have criticised and condemned this as an election ploy. If housing 1,000 families is an election ploy, we at the HDC will be happily and merrily ‘ploying’ all the way to Christmas,” he said.
Mitchell added: “We are simply doing our jobs, in a season where family and goodwill is extremely important to all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. So, I would simply say to Dr Moonilal.... just give me a chance. Allow me to do the work for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and you, the new owners.”
Mitchell said under the former administration, the HDC only focused on providing contracts to contractors, but not giving the houses to those in need. He explained that the last administration spent $5.5 billion to build 3,900 housing units. While the prior PNM administration spent $5 billion to build 16,000 units.
He further stated that there were about 1,500 hundred housing units that fell into the unfinished or vandalised category. The homes he said fell into a state of disrepair due to negligence and it is the job of the HDC to manage the situation as best as possible with limited resources. On his initial announcement of plans to sell the homes "as is" at no reduced cost, the Minister said this would be finalized after the HDC drafts a policy to be presented to Cabinet.