Housing Minister, Guy Joseph, Monday expressed concern about the price for renting CDC apartments in downtown Castries.
St Lucia Times has been reliably informed that some CDC apartment tenants are paying as little as $EC160 a month for a two bedroom apartment, while the National Housing Corporation (NHC) is owed some $EC 2.5 million in outstanding rent.
Minister Joseph told a news conference Monday morning that while people complain about the state of the apartments, the rent collected for them is insufficient to provide basic maintenance.
The minister explained that resources from other areas have to be diverted to provide the basic upkeep that is required.
“You look at the buildings some of them are defacing the City because the required maintenance is not done,” he said.
“It cannot be that living in the City is cheaper than living anywhere else in Saint Lucia. It should not be a situation where rental of CDCs should be cheaper than any other house anywhere else in Saint Lucia,” Joseph told reporters.
He observed that he government wants the private sector to invest.
But the minister pointed out that at the same time, an individual with an apartment to rent would be seeking a particular price for a rural community, whereas an apartment in the middle of the City can be rented at a fraction of the price that is demanded anywhere else.
“We continue to highlight that there are issues in this country but nobody wants to deal with the core of the problem,” the minister lamented.
Joseph recalled having said on several occasions in the past that as minister with responsibility for housing, he spends more time telling people that there are no CDC apartments available for rent.
“If 20 people come to me in a day, 12 or 15 of them- they are interested in getting a CDC (apartment),” he told reporters.
According to the Castries South East MP, the structure of government in Saint Lucia is such that if people go to the NHC and are told that there are no CDC apartments available, everyone believes that the minister can get them one to rent.
“You cannot turn away anybody who comes to see you – I don’t turn away anybody who comes to see me, so I have to sit with everybody and explain to them,” Joseph stated.