December 09, 2011
Housing Minister Kenneth Russell said yesterday that people who occupy government built houses without conveyances must get a mortgage or get out. "We believe that in the final analysis either we will end up getting them to go on to the mortgage and pay for the house or we will find a way for them to get out of the homes even if we have to take police there and force them to move them out," Russell told The Nassau Guardian yesterday after the groundbreaking ceremony for Pride Estates III.
"It is wrong to have one person paying for the house and the next person living free. We have to stop that. We have to change that." According to Mortgage Corporation documents obtained by The Nassau Guardian, at least a dozen people were given keys to homes under the previous government without mortgages in place. However, Russell said there were many more people in this category.
"There were hundreds of persons who were living in homes without conveyances," he said. "We have brought that down to under 20. We have gotten some people out of homes who had no intention of paying. "A number of persons who had keys given to them with no commitment to anything have now regularized themselves. One or two of them are high government officials. So we had help with that. It's just a matter of these couple of people who we're still having problems with."
Russell said the Ministry of Housing was also successful in getting one person without a mortgage out of a home in Grand Bahama."It was a hard fight," said Russell. "The lawyer who was working for us unfortunately has gone on to greener pastures and we lost her work. There a was a woman here in Pride Estates who was given keys and she was never given anything else. And she is still living in that house. "She never paid one dime. And the bad part about it is that that is one of the houses that I had to repair."
Russell said his ministry has been working since 2007 to deal with people who are occupying government constructed homes without mortgages. He said hopefully the next person with responsibility for the housing ministry will continue the work that he started. Russell noted that there is "something wrong with putting people in homes before they get the conveyance signed".
He said the government understands that many people will say that it is wrong to put people out of homes, but he added that he hopes "Bahamians understand that the money [the government is] spending belongs to them".
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