STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE MARLON A. PENN
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
EIGHTH SITTING OF THE FOURTH SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
TUESDAY, 15th NOVEMBER 2022
Update on Joe's Hill Housing Development
Madam Speaker, I would like at this time to provide an update on the Joe’s Hill Housing Development project being undertaken by the Social Security Board.
Honourable members may recall that in April 2021 the then Minister with responsibility for Social Security, Honourable Vincent Wheatley, explained the background and advised this House of the status of the project. At that time, the Honourable Member reported that the project, which includes twenty-five (25) buildings, comprising fifty-two (52) residential units plus a commercial rental space, was nearing completion a full year ahead of schedule, under a Design/Build Agreement with James Todman Construction Ltd that was signed in May 2020.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to inform this House that the construction phase of the project is substantially complete, and the contractor officially handed over the keys to the Joe’s Hill Manor Estate to the Social Security Board on the 15th of June 2022. The units are a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos, single family homes, and townhouses to be sold at fair market value to qualifying first-time homeowners who would occupy the property as their primary residence. Financing for the individual mortgages can be accessed through the banks operating in the Territory.
The Social Security Board has since embarked on a three-step Applicant Selection Process: comprised of verification, pre-approval, and final selection procedures.
Persons who had responded to previous calls for applications were contacted and requested to undergo a verification process, and verified applicants were then invited to attend a Homeowners Workshop that was held on the 18th of October 2022 at the HL Stoutt Community College. The aim of the Workshop was to provide prospective homebuyers with pertinent information needed to evaluate the purchase decision. Presentations were made on money management, sales and purchase agreement, restrictive covenants, and homeowners’ associations; and there was a panel discussion on the mortgage process. The Homeowners Workshop was attended by 132 prospective homebuyers and featured information booths from all commercial banks in the Territory. The banks gave an indication of concessions they would be offering to qualified applicants, and prospective homeowners were encouraged to examine the various offers to determine the financing arrangements most suitable to their individual needs. That event marked the culmination of Phase 1 of the Applicant Selection Process.
Phase 2 of the Selection Process has now commenced and requires the verified applicants that remain interested to seek pre-qualification for financing from the bank of their choice. Site visits to the property are also being conducted during this phase.
Madam Speaker, the procedure to be applied in Phase 3 for the allocation of homes will primarily depend on the actual number of applicants that are pre-qualified for bank financing. At the end of November 2022, if there are more pre-qualified applicants than available units in a particular category (based on the size and style of unit selected), then a randomized selection procedure may become necessary, in order to ensure transparency in the allocation of those units.
Thereafter, each selected applicant will be allowed up to 90 days to finalize a mortgage and complete the property purchase transaction.
Madam Speaker, in closing, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge and thank all the individuals and entities involved in bringing the project to this stage, including the Board of Directors, management and staff of the Social Security Board, the Project Manager, Mr. Dion Stoutt of STO Enterprise Ltd., the General Contractor, James Todman Construction Ltd, and the Ministry of Communication and Works for its role in completing the associated public utilities and infrastructure projects.
I also wish to commend all the persons that submitted applications, the commercial banks, other implementing partners, and the community at large for their keen interest in this project. We look forward to continued support towards the successful sale of the housing units. This will be important, not only for the replenishment and long-term sustainability of the Social Security Fund, but also for the stability of the fifty-two (52) households that will finally be able to accomplish the dream of home ownership at Joe’s Hill Manor.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.