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Department of Housing’s Rent-to-Own initiative to expand path to homeownership

Department of Housing’s Rent-to-Own initiative to expand path to homeownership

NASSAU, The Bahamas — The Hon. JoBeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing, announced ‘A Place To Call Home’ rent-to-own initiative as part of the government’s promise of new opportunities during her communication to the House of Assembly, October 5, 2022.

“In our party’s Blueprint for Change, we committed to the implementation of a Rent-To-Own initiative to expand the path to homeownership for Bahamians,” said Minister Coleby-Davis.

The Department of Housing is currently reviewing over 1,200 active applications for housing. Each customer service representative at the department is currently managing over 350 applications. These applications are from all segments of society and include teachers, nurses, police officers, hospitality workers and bankers to name a few.

Over the past few months, she said, her team at the Ministry of Transport and Housing has been working diligently on a viable and sustainable Rent-To-Own structure.

“I am pleased and humbled,” she said, to advise of the launch of Phase I of ‘A Place To Call Home,’ a Rent-To-Own initiative of the Department of Housing.

The Minister stated:

“A Place To Call Home is being launched under the Housing Act which empowers the Department of Housing to:

  • Construct dwelling houses upon land owned by the Government or to be acquired for such purposes;
  • Acquire dwelling houses, land or housing projects by way of purchase, lease or otherwise;
  • Sell, lease, exchange or otherwise dispose of real of personal property acquired pursuant to this Act;

“As I have indicated in this chamber on numerous occasions the Davis administration believes ‘wholeheartedly in empowering hardworking Bahamians through homeownership.’  We believe, in a balanced development that puts Bahamians at the center of the evolution of our communities and our country.

“One of the recommendations of the internal report is the implementation of a viable and sustainable Rent-To-Own programme.  It is my belief that ‘A Place To Call Home’ is that initiative.

“The mission statement of ‘A Place To Call Home’ is to provide a sustainable path to homeownership, to empower, to create value and to make a difference in the lives of Bahamians.”

She continued: “A Place To Call Home will be built on integrity.  We will be transparent, honest, and accountable with the Bahamian people. A Place To Call Home will be innovative. We will use technology and proven best practices from Rent-To-Own initiatives from New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. A Place To Call Home will have impact. We will use data analysis and employ delivery solutions to ensure that we deliver value for the Bahamian people.

“A Place To Call Home is designed for working Bahamians. It is a multi-island, sustainable, financially viable housing solution administered by the Department of Housing with oversight provided by an Advisory Committee – comprised of qualified and experienced Bahamian professionals from the public and private sectors.

“Phase 1 of A Place To Call Home will be rolled out in very short order on the island of Abaco and will initially include 5 housing units. The homes will be in Spring City, the Minister noted, this Abaco rollout of A Place To Call Home is a partnership with the Bahamas Mortgage Corporate (BMC).

“We are starting A Place To Call Home, in Abaco, because this administration understands that the need for housing on the island is great. We also understand that the cost of rent on the island is significant – so this RTO initiative will assist in lowering the cost of housing.

“I said in my address to the Abaco Business Outlook that we will not abandon Abaconians. My ministry will deliver on that promise. At the Department of Housing, we understand that housing must complement national development and assist in regenerating our Family Islands.  Therefore, A Place To Call Home will be multi-island. For example, the people of San Salvador – where there is major employment with the Club Med Resort – will be hearing about our plans shortly. In Bimini and North Eleuthera, where we seeing strong tourism numbers, A Place To Call Home will be launched. In Cat Island, Exuma, and North Andros, we will offer our Rent-To-Own initiative. Bahamians across our country will have a viable path to homeownership through A Place To Call Home and other housing solutions that the Department of Housing is working on.

“Deputy Speaker, an important component of A Place To Call Home will be to expand economic opportunities to licensed small contractors on our islands with a proven and verified track-record of quality performance and excellence. We understand that economic benefits must trickle down, Deputy Speaker, so I say to small contractors, very simply – get ready!

“A number of housing models will be used in A Place To Call Home. The models will range from a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom model, to a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom model.

“A Place To Call Home, Deputy Speaker, gives Bahamians the opportunity to save up for their first dream home while living in it at the same time. Over an agreed fixed period, rent will be paid to the Department of Housing. A portion of the rent will go towards a down payment for the mortgage, property maintenance, and insurance costs.

A reservation deposit is required to enroll in A Place To Call Home. Successful applicants will be required to attend a home ownership education course through the Department of Housing and agree to financial coaching. In short order a public invitation will be extended for interested applicants to register at Bahamians are encouraged to follow the Ministry of Transport and Housing’s social media pages and to listen out for further information on radio and television.

” Minister Coleby-Davis said: “I understand that many Bahamians would like an example of how ‘A Place To Call Home’ will work. Therefore, let me give an analogy and explain. Mary Johnson is a teacher. She is interested in enrolling in ‘A Place To Call Home.’ Mary registers online with the Department of Housing and is advised of the cost of a 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom home. She selects the housing solution to lease for 12 months with the purchase option.  Mary also indicates that her preferred financial institution is The Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC).”

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