Seen as the cornerstone of prosperity for the average Saint Lucian, home ownership represents a lifetime investment, often made at great personal sacrifice.
For many, the burden of mortgage repayments spans decades, constraining their economic potential.
Acknowledging the challenges faced by the nation’s most vulnerable in their pursuit of home acquisition, the Minister of Equity, Social Justice, and Empowerment, Hon Joachim Henry has launched a groundbreaking pilot initiative.
This initiative harnesses proven, cost-effective construction techniques while incorporating a community oversight system, featuring collaboration with church and nonprofit organizations dedicated to safeguarding these critical investments.
The innovative pilot initiative recently faced its first test when the Ministry of Equity, in partnership with the Saint Lucia Social Development Fund, joined forces with the Saint Lucia Mission of Seventh Day Adventists and the Saint Lucia Blind Welfare Association to construct and hand over a modest duplex structure, providing shelter for two households.
“So the community comes alive and with our combined effort, you can see something is happening. It now becomes sustainability and of course, the investment made by the state is protected. So the resources of the country have not gone out to waste, but now you have stewardship in terms of the church and the Blind Welfare Association to ensure that the investment made by the taxpayers is protected for the intended purpose,” notes Minister Henry.
An industry expert in quantity surveying and social intervention management, Minister Henry underscores that this pioneering approach utilizes four-inch blocks for wall construction, eliminates the need for plastering and reduces reliance on thick concrete flooring.
This approach tried and tested in other Caribbean nations like Jamaica, promises both resilience and efficiency.
“I know the compressive stress of 4-inch concrete blocks and 6-inch concrete blocks is just the same. It’s just a perception that if you are building a house out of 6-inch concrete blocks it is a lot stronger. The Truth is the two are just the same and you are not looking for lateral strength, you are looking for compressive strength. We actually designed it not to have throughout a heavy reinforced concrete however there is a 2-inch concrete floor.”
Looking ahead, Minister Henry advocates for the adoption of this pilot initiative as a model for addressing Saint Lucia’s chronic housing needs.
He says the merger of cost-effective construction techniques and strong management partnerships with religious and nonprofit organizations could revolutionize the approach to meeting the housing needs for the country’s most vulnerable.
SOURCE: Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment