The Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing has begun constructing starter homes for Belizeans. As part of its campaign promise the People’s United Party pledged that it will build ten thousand homes across the country. As part of the Ministry’s pilot project, one hundred and fifty single bedroom homes are currently under construction. The media was taken on a tour to see how construction is going. Senior Reporter, Hipolito Novelo reports.
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: With suitable weather conditions and the availability of raw materials, the construction of a start home goes from this in week one to this in week eight.
The People’s United Party as part of its Plan Belize manifesto promised to build ten thousand homes for Belizean across the countries. As part of the pilot project, one hundred and fifty single bedroom houses are being built across the constituencies.
In Dangriga four homes are being built and one of those homes is for Desiree Diego.
Desiree Diego, Recipient: “My heart is full. I am very very happy. To be honest this comes like a miracle and I’m grateful for all the help that I am getting. The house is more than what I expected it was going to be. Most of all I mostly think of my children and that’s why I’m grateful for this little help that I’m getting from the government and the Ministry of Housing
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: Diego’s future house is in its first phase of construction with the foundation laid, elevated due to flooding.
Trevor Garcia, Engineer, M.I.D.H: “For this particular situation we had to make some amendments to the proposed design that we had because we got to understand that this area is prone to flooding so we had to go two more block heights and put a ring beam around the perimeter of the foundation.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: Also receiving a new home in Dangriga is single mother Karla Chavez. Since the start of the construction, Chaves visits the site every day, eager for the day when she will be handed over the keys.
Karla Chavez, Recipient: “I was super super overwhelmed. I felt so happy. There are no words that could express my joy that I felt. I have an almost to be two year old female child, this will help me to become more independent, more stable and I don’t know it’s just something that I’ve always wanted a home of my own, something to help me educate my child knowing that the things that I went through and how difficult it is and it’s a big opportunity and eye opening to all other people who are in my situation and are in different situations.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: These starter homes are being built across the country. In Belmopan, four are under construction. This one here is nearing completion while this one in Roaring Creek has been completed. Publicity Manager for the Ministry, Marissa Alamilla, says recipients for the pilot phase needed to exhibit extreme need. Applications are approved by a House Committee.
Marissa Alamilla, Publicity Manager, M.I.D.H.: “We have had new applications when we came in because everybody knew about the Blu Plan and so everybody knew that this government would be embarking on a housing program and so they came in and when they came in we were then put into action to vet these applications and then to present them to a housing committee. The applications that we have vetted were really on extreme need basis. Real extreme need, real life stories that I’m sure that thousands of Belizeans also share but at this time so that we can work out all the kinks in the system, so that we can ensure that our ministry delivers a quality product to our Belizean people, one that they deserve and the service that they deserve from a ministry we have embarked on doing it on a small scale just to see where the needs lie and how we’re going to be able to fit that need. So the hundred and fifty applicants are just the pilot phase for us to know the terrains of Belize, what it will cost, how we will mobilize man power to those areas, how the contractors work because all of these are built by individual contractors, independent contractors they’re not built by us but we oversee the building, we ensure that it is hurricane resistant and it is meeting all the standards of CBA. We are ensuring that we can produce what we say we can produce.”
Jose Monterosa, Architect, M.I.D.H.: “The components of the house consist of a living room which is divided from the open concept with a partition wall and leaving the open space a kitchenette, a dining and kitchenette area.
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: Okay so realistically speaking how many persons can live in this structure ?
Jose Monterosa, Architect, M.I.D.H.: “Initially it was intended for single mothers but we can say that at least three persons can occupy the space. Our foundation consists of a two foot wide by ten inch thick foundation consisting of two rows of blocks. Depending on the terrain, in this case we did three rows of blocks because the terrain is a bit inclined. Considering the hurricane weather and so on that we do have in Belize we have a terrace in the bathroom area which will allow for a type of bunker should incase the family needs it.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: And some families need all the help they can get. And for those outsiders, who have a decent house and a decent bed to lay on every night, without worrying about rent or where you will sleep next week, this house may be small. But for those recipients it means the world- and that’s just the beginning of it because as years go by they can expand the house.
Marissa Alamilla, Publicity Manager, M.I.D.H.: “You have women that are sleeping in a wet bed when it rains or you have mothers who are living without light, water, access to a bathroom, things that we may take for granted out here. There are Belizeans who are suffering to levels that even I cannot fathom how they do it day in day out and I think at MIDH we have seen that need, we have made sure that we understand I think that we know that Belizeans deserve better and we want to live better but delivering better means that you need to trust that our team will get to you. It may not be immediate but we are trying. Most of these recipients were living in a one bedroom if even a one bedroom. I have a mother down in PG who she lives in a structure half the size of this with five children. She has no running water, no bathroom, no living room, no kitchen space. She has none of that. I am improving the condition of her life so that she’ll be able to dream. You cannot dream when you are depressed. You cannot dream when you have conditions that you never see how you’re going to get out of it. At the Ministry we are changing lives, that is what we’re doing. We’re making your life a different space so that you can dream.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love News: And the cost of that dream is twenty dollars a week until the house is theirs.
Karla Chavez, Recipient: “The payment plan they scheduled something around a wage that I could afford so I have a job and I think that will be not a problem for me to be paying it off so that’s not a problem.”
Desiree Diego, Recipient: “It’s a good good feeling. Actually you know the money that you would be paying towards a rent you’re paying it toward your home so you already started getting this so you might as well you finish pay it off and eventually call it your home.”