The Caribisch Netwerk reports that on December 16 some twenty families received the keys to their house from the Own Your Own Home Foundation ( OYOHF ). Some families have waited ten to twelve years for this moment and sixty families are still on the waiting list . Although Saba is referred to as the ” Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean”, there are more than a hundred families living below the poverty line . ” The kids and I are relieved. A new home with a private room for everyone is very important. It is hard to find a spacious home for this price” says Cecilia Gonzalez , a young, hard-working mother of five . On Saba, there are many families whose parents have two jobs, just to get by on a pension or are on welfare. Social housing is necessary because it is not attractive for the private sector to build affordable rental housing. Due to the high interest rates of local banks, mortgages are too expensive for families with low incomes.
In 2009 the OYOHF received three million euros from the European Development Fund ( EDF ) to buy land and build 20 units for social housing . With additional funding from the housing association Woonlinie from the Netherlands , the OYOHF could start the construction. Saba Roads and Construction, a subsidiary of the Dutch construction company Jansen de Jong , has completed the first phase of the plan.
The rent for a house with three rooms is $ 600 per month , a house with two rooms costs $ 450 and a house with one room rents for $ 350. Water and electricity are not included. Rents are based on one-third of the total income of a family . The minimum wage in Saba is in fact $ 900 per month. Families on Saba can not apply for housing benefits like in the Netherlands .
More social housing
The OYOHF has signed an agreement of 3 million with EDF for the construction of another set of twenty units for social housing . There are also lots being made available for purchase so that people can build their own house. In addition, the Island Council has made available a budget of $ 90,000 for the next three years to facilitate essential repairs on the first homes of the OYOHF. Last October, The Netherlands made an additional $ 10,000 available to repair the older homes of the Foundation. ” It feels good to help families to an affordable home. Everyone has the right to adequate housing and to live comfortably , ” says the director of OYOHF , Rolando Wilson