Updated: Sep 5, 2021
Yesterday, the FNM administration revealed its guidance notes for young professionals to apply for serviced lots in the Prospect Ridge Community. Upon review of the notes, it is evident that the environmental feasibility of the proposed housing development is up in the air and its application process is discriminatory and arbitrary non-sense.
According to the notes, e-applications are being accepted while the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the development is presently underway by a consultant retained by the Government. It is absolutely mindboggling that this administration is campaigning on a 2-year housing development promise without a reviewable EIA to help determine whether to approve the project or not, and under what conditions and standards, if at all.
The criteria to apply, and the selection and awarding process is discriminatory and arbitrary on several fronts. Firstly, applicants must be residents in The Bahamas, which means that any otherwise eligible applicant residing abroad cannot apply for a lot in the hopes of returning to The Bahamas as a new homeowner. Secondly, a professional is defined as “someone who is accomplished in his or her field… etc”, which is extremely vague and ambiguous. Finally, each applicant must be 18 to 45 years old, which disqualifies many Bahamians that require a second chance to finally become first-time homeowners and escape what is called ‘generation rent’. This ageism is perpetuated whereas applicants are placed in pools based on marital status or disability and then ranked with more points than others if they are younger. Also, if you already own a vacant lot but not a home, you will not gain additional points in the selection process.
A special interest group committee overseeing the process determines whether an applicant satisfies said description. The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) opposes the delegation of powers to this committee in this regard and reiterates the demand for a transparent and accessible National Land Bureau for all Crown Land grant applications. Ultimately, the criteria begs the questions who are these path dependent people that may benefit from this development? Is it likely to be persons that lost their home from Hurricane Dorian? Is it likely to be persons that lost their home due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Is it a timely and reasonable allocation of our resources to address the current homelessness crisis plaguing our nation?
Boykin G. Smith
DNA Spokesperson for Environment & Housing/Candidate for Garden Hills