CDB considering appropriate housing solutions for lower-middle income owners

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is currently revising its Housing Sector Policy and Strategy so as to better assist its Borrowing Member Countries (BMC) in the provision of appropriate housing solutions, particularly for low and lower middle-income segments of the population.  One step towards the revised policy was a recent workshop held in Barbados on February 24 and 25, on the theme Promoting Sustainable Development Approaches to Housing for Low Income Households.

The basis of the workshop was two studies commissioned by the Bank that separately assessed, CDB’s involvement in the housing sector and work being undertaken by selected BMC.  Participants discussed the findings of these two studies as well as a presentation on the challenges, opportunities and successes of affordable housing solutions for low income households.  The workshop also provided an opportunity for participants to exchange views and experiences on the housing sector in their respective countries.

The Bank’s Director of Projects, Ms. Michelle Cross Fenty reminded participants that over the years CDB and the governments of the BMCs have placed a high development priority on housing.

“Since 1990, CDB has provided over USD160 million in loans and grants to 12 Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) in support of various initiatives in the housing sector…Traditionally, interventions have been geared towards home ownership (including the provision of mortgage finance through financial intermediaries), improvements in housing stock, upgrading and regularising informal settlements and providing sites and services.”

Ms. Cross Fenty also outlined one of the valuable lessons that came out of CDB’s experiences of financing the provision of low-income housing.

“… the need to adopt an ‘enabling plus’ approach to housing policy, that considers both the provision of housing and the enabling environment that is required to support the sustainable development of housing sectors across our BMCs.  Without the necessary enabling environment in place, the actual construction of housing units will not have the desired maximum social, economic and environmental development impacts.  Therefore, in order to maximize the impact of our interventions, and to facilitate an appropriate, holistic response to the…housing challenges, establishment of an enabling environment has become a critical consideration for the Bank,” Ms. Cross Fenty said.

Recent studies suggest that the housing deficit in Latin America and the Caribbean stands at between 42 and 51 million units in a region that is estimated to grow to 160 million households by 2020.  This unmet demand, compounded by changing settlement patterns, has resulted in insufficient housing provision, as evidenced by informal settlements, particularly in urban areas. 

Although data on housing in the Bank’s BMCs are not readily available, surveys of living conditions suggest that significant pockets of substandard housing still exist, especially among lower quintiles of the population.