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On October 7, 2014 – Habitat for Humanity Guyana hosted a panel discussion at the Theatre Guild, Kingstown, Georgetown, examining two issues: (i) access to affordable housing in Guyana and (2) the impact of affordable housing on breaking the poverty cycle among Guyanese families. The Panelists included the Distinguished Professor, Dr. Clive Thomas, Professor of Economics-University of Guyana, Mrs. Jennifer Cipriani, Marketing Manager-Scotia Bank Guyana, Mr. Rawle Small, National Director-Habitat for Humanity and Mr. Leonard Gildarie, Editor-Kaieteur News.
Emerging from the discussion was a central theme – The need to re-think housing approach. Other issues included the need for a National Housing Policy as opposed to a Government Housing Policy; a call for local commercial banks to treat mortgages and mortgage assessments using an asset-based approach as oppose to a liability or debt-based approach; the former considers the equity and overall value of the mortgage overtime. Other key issues involved the need for greater collaboration and partnership among the different market actors within the housing sector, innovate housing finance models such as housing micro-finance, rent-to-own, accessible tax credits to mortgagers, in particular low-income earning families, the establishment of a national homeowners association and updated property rights regulation and localized governance.
The discussion ended with a call by audience members for another similar event that explores other housing issues and opportunities. Habitat for Humanity Guyana is in the process of completing a housing study that explored access to housing finance and the impact of affordable housing on breaking the cycle of poverty in Guyana.
There is now near universal agreement regarding the solution. Priorities must include more affordable housing and strategies to strengthen our poorest and most isolated communities.
Habitat Staff, Volunteers, Friends of Habitat and other individuals hit the streets of Georgetown on October 4, 2014 in a “Walk Against Poverty”. It was a bold initiative to raise awareness about Habitat Guyana’s ongoing work with low income families to reduce poverty housing