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Feb 1, 2023

A New Housing Project is Inaugurated at Blackberry Ridge Estate

This morning, Prime Minister John Briceño, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing Julius Espat and a handful of government ministers and C.E.O.’s were on hand for the unveiling of Blackberry Ridge Estate, the latest housing initiative to be undertaken by his administration.  The site is a few minutes outside of Burrell Boom Village and is part of the People’s United Party’s Plan Belize manifesto, to provide affordable housing for the most deserving.  Earlier today, News Five’s Isani Cayetano was present for the inauguration and filed the following story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A twenty-five acre spread just a few minutes away from Burrell Boom Village, is the site of government’s most recent initiative, a housing project that provides affordable homes for fifty residents.  Blackberry Ridge Estate is a collection of starter homes made possible through the Briceño administration, under Plan Belize, to persons who were affected by Hurricane Lisa, as well as others who are first-time homeowners.


Julius Espat

Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development & Housing

“We started the program building homes throughout the entire country, individual homes, because at the time we didn’t have a land to be able to do a community.  So, from the onset, we were looking throughout the entire country as to where we could start the programs.”


The Ministry of Infrastructure Development & Housing eventually settled on an area not far from the Hattieville/Boom Road.  The location, one mile off the circuit, was ideal for the new community.


Julius Espat

“Mr. Flowers had this parcel of land and he came up with the proposal.  Once that fell within the specifications that we had at the ministry and the price range, and the price was really good, and so we took it to cabinet, we got cabinet’s approval, and then we did all that we needed to do.  We had to go to the Ministry of Finance for approval, we went to the contractor general for approval and this is where we’re at now, after the work has been completed.”


The homes are modest and designed for single occupancy or, at best, a small family.  The idea, however, is that over time these structures will be expanded to accommodate a growing household.


Prime Minister John Briceño

Prime Minister John Briceño

“In simple terms, a starter home concept is a house that is designed in such a way that you could expand with it over time and it is a house that as a government, we have a responsibility to help those that need the help.  We don’t need to help those that have.  They could go to the bank and borrow their own money and build there own house.  But you recipients right here, it would be very difficult for you to walk into Belize Bank and say, “I wahn borrow a hundred thousand dollars to build a home.”  The first thing they will tell you is, “What’s your collateral?”


Realizing that many of them may not have had property as security against a loan, the Government of Belize decided that it would assume the lion’s share of the expense.  The remainder would be covered by the recipients of those properties.


Prime Minister John Briceño

“The government puts a part of the investment and then you, as the homeowner, will pay a part of the balance of that investment.  And why is it important that you also as the recipients of these homes also pay something towards it.  It is important so that you know that there is a cost to this house.”


Each property, approximately a quarter-acre in size, comes in at around forty-five thousand dollars, house and lot.  That’s a total value of two and a quarter million dollars for all fifty homes, paid out of government’s coffers.


Isani Cayetano

“A hundred dollars a month is within reach, in terms of persons being able to pay for these starter homes.  But there is also the likelihood that some people will default, nonetheless.  How does the government plan to deal with that, considering the fact that these buildings are being constructed out of the public purse?”


Julius Espat

“This is not a private enterprise.  It is not for profit.  This is a social program.  This is a program designed to help people and yes, you will have some that will probably not be responsible, for whatever reason, to achieve that payment.  I think [that] we will have to sit down collectively between the area reps and see how we can assist, because in reality the people are in need and we tried to make it as affordable as possible but even that, sometimes I think you will have some difficulty.  But what’s the purpose of this program?  The purpose of this program is to enable people to have a better life.”


Isani Cayetano for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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