“I am pleased to provide an update on the progress we have made so far this year in increasing the housing stock and to also provide a look forward to the additional units coming online,” Minister of Public Works Lt/Col David Burch said in the House of Assembly today [Sept 30].
Mr. Speaker, that is the mandate of the Bermuda Housing Corporation – the vehicle the Government has to address the housing challenges we face in Bermuda. I am pleased to provide an update on the progress we have made so far this year in increasing the housing stock and to also provide a look forward to the additional units coming online.
Firstly, Mr. Speaker, I invite Honourable members to recall the Ministerial Statements I made in October and December 2022 and again in March 2023 – all of which detailed the works of the Residential Rental Unit Renovation Programme and the works that are a part of the Economic Stimulus Programme under the BHC. Together these programmes will see an additional seventy-seven  affordable rental units added to the BHC stock and made available to Bermudians.
Additionally, the BHC utilises the proven Rent Geared to Income [RGI] based scheme which is capped at 35% of the total household income – 25% for rent and 10% for mandatory savings. This system allows for low and middle income families to afford a quality standard of living as well as save a portion of their household income towards ultimately improving their housing condition. Simply, if the total household income is $4,000 a month – then the rent is $1,000, while $400 will be the mandatory savings.
New clients are assessed regularly for their suitability to participate in the programme that can be expanded using the Bermuda Housing Corporation owned stock of housing. Client status is generally reviewed annually at lease renewal or at the clients request when their household income situation changes.
Mr. Speaker, in the March statement of this year, I announced that there will be an additional forty-two  affordable rental units added within the Government’s 2023/24 fiscal year. As of today that number stands at:
- 3 units in Sandys – 1 X 3 bedroom / 1 bath & 2 X 2 bed / 1 bath
- 2 units in Smiths – 1 X 2 bedroom / 1 bath & 1 X 1 bed / 1 bath
- 1 unit in St. David’s – 1 X 4 bedroom / 2 bath
- 8 units in Paget – 8 X studio units
- 1 unit in St. George’s – 1 X 3 bedroom / 2 bath
The above 15 units are either occupied or in the process of being allocated.
The 8 units in Paget are part of the Harmony Club complex which is undergoing renovation of all the units to ultimately create a 52-unit complex. It is being done in phases as there are some tenants currently in place. These tenants will be moved into the new units as they are completed – so the increase of 20 additional units will come into effect at the end of the exercise.
Demolition work has already begun on the next 12 units as we await planning approvals.
A new 5 bed – 5 bath rooming house in Somerset is set to open next week. Based on the current demand – this will be used to house women in need. This cottage was formerly a two-apartment family home.
As we proceed through the remainder of this fiscal year:
- Five  units are set to be completed by December 2023
- 13 units are under construction and expected to come online in the first quarter of 2024;
There are currently 22 units that are awaiting planning permission which are expected to be completed within the next fiscal year.
Mr. Speaker this means that of the previously mentioned seventy-seven  new affordable rental units:
- Twenty  have been completed.
- Forty  are in various stages of completion; and
- Seventeen  are in the pre-planning stages.
Mr. Speaker we are making steady progress but recognise that there is still more work to be done.
I cannot emphasise this enough Mr. Speaker, the Government intends to see the completion of all of these housing projects, to honour our pledge to address the housing shortage.
We will work through the current plans as we develop other ways to increase the housing inventory – such as expanding the private sector rental programme. This programme involves the Bermuda Housing Corporation renting private sector units and being responsible for the unit and the tenant placed there. The BHC will guarantee the rent and the return of the unit in the condition it was rented. The Corporation has a price point that is below market value but reasonable considering the above guarantees.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Bermuda Housing Corporation Board, ably led by MP Chris Famous, BHC Management ably led by Mr. Paul Martin and the BHC staff for the hard work they do every day to further deliver on the BHC mandate of providing affordable housing for Bermudians.
Thank You Mr. Speaker.