By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Senate passed a resolution yesterday which sought Parliament’s approval for the conveyance of 1.2 acres of land in Fox Hill for development as serviced lots.
The resolution moves the proposed 10-lot Lionel Davis Subdivision, the second low-cost housing community developed by the Minnis administration under its Access to Affordable Homes Act (2018), one step closer to reality.
The Act affords the owners of these lots the opportunity to apply to the minister of finance for exemption from custom duties and excise tax on materials needed to construct single-family dwelling homes.
However, property owners must find their own contractor and architect or use pre-existing housing plans offered by the government.
During debate in the Senate yesterday, Senator Jamal Moss praised the scheme, which he said seeks to aid “steadfast” Bahamians “interested in owning a piece of the rock.”
Mr Moss said the development will ultimately signal the end of “the old way of doing business” under the former Christie administration, alleging that many young and qualified Bahamians were often turned away from Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC) either for political reasons or the over-saturation of the system by political cronies.
“I remember as a younger chap going to the Mortgage Corporation applying for a government home in 2003. I brought all my information which was required. I remember getting the horrible news that I was not qualified and they explained to me because of my loans here and there, plus my salary was too small. I was devastated,” he said.
“Two years later, I went back to the Mortgage Corporation and reapplied for a government home. The lady then told me that I will not be approved. I asked why? I already paid off my loans. She said it’s because of your salary.
“Again, I felt devastated, but she told me to get someone who will be willing to sign on with you as a co-sponsor so your file can look more attractive and you can be approved to go to the next level for consideration. I did that and thankfully was able to find someone to sign on with me just so I can be one step closer to achieving my goal.”
Mr Moss added: “During that year I waited and waited for a phone call to tell me, ‘Mr Jamal Moss, you have been approved.’ Instead I wasted money on answering every strange number on my cell phone thinking this was housing people calling me.”
Mr Moss said in mid-2005, while at work, he received a call from a senior officer at the BMC who informed him that due to his political leanings, he would not be approved.
“He said ‘man you is a FNM, I can’t do this for you, plus the board already declared that they aren’t approving it,’” Mr Moss recalled. “He told me to wait until your party get back in power and that will be a very long time. He then said he has to go and hanged up.
“I was left in shock. I felt like someone ripped me off of my life savings. My zeal to work that day dropped big time,” he added.
Mr Moss said two years later, upon the PLP being voted out of office in the 2017 general election, he resubmitted his application to the BMC, only to be informed that his original file had never been put forward for consideration.
He said shortly after the matter was rectified, he was approved for a mortgage by the BMC, later becoming a homeowner in 2009.
“Owning a piece of the rock … it brings a high level and a sense of worth and achievement to the average Bahamian man.
“I told my story and this is why this FNM government is helping Bahamians, especially young Bahamians to realise that dream. As a young senator I can tell you that the average Bahamian out there is not looking for a hand out, but instead is looking for a shot.
“We want to do things for ourselves, but just need that assistance from those in whatever position to respect that. The FNM is doing just that, so when the opposition comes with the re-direct, that we aren’t doing this or that, again I want them to appreciate that not everyone wants a hand out,” Mr Moss said.
“(The FNM) is giving people hope. We are giving them a shot at a future. We are building and strengthening the Bahamian middle class. That is what this FNM government is doing.”