BVI News

Too pricey! Decision needed on Joe’s Hill social housing issue

Marlon Penn

Minister for Social Development Marlon Penn said he felt there was a need for a closer look at the housing initiative in Joe’s Hill which was expected to deliver affordable housing for some residents of the territory.

The government last year completed a $26 million construction project to facilitate first-time homeowners at its Joe’s Hill Manor housing development in what some felt was an affordable housing initiative at the time. 

However, it was later realised that many of the homes proved unaffordable and thus out of reach of the pockets of applicants and intended beneficiaries.

Although the intention of the programme was to facilitate first-time homeowners, Penn said it was discovered that the market-rate price points for the homes proved to be a challenge for many of the applicants.

“Though the price points are market-rate — it’s in line with what the market is saying that a house of that size or that magnitude would cost — we’re finding it difficult for persons to get a loan to purchase those [homes],” the Minister said.

“I think a lot of the problem is the initial capital that persons have to come up with,” Penn added. “Many persons might have the income level to be able to pay the mortgage, but they don’t have the liquidity — the savings to pay the down payment.” 

Penn said a decision must now be made on whether the homes will continue to be restricted to first-time homeowners or whether it will be expanded to other buyers.

“At the end of the day, it’s the pensioners’ monies that’s tied up in this investment and that money has to go back to the pensioners and the investment,” the Minister said.

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley recently opined that the government needs to look at creating affordable housing for residents and conceded that the Joe’s Hill project would prove ‘quite expensive’ for persons seeking affordable housing opportunities.

The Joe’s Hill Housing development has 25 buildings, comprising 52 residential units plus commercial rental space.


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  1. WHAT??? says:

    Whay are they selling at “market rate” – why not price them at actual cost plus a reasonable percentage for the pension fund investment (5%?).
    Market rate pricing is profiteering, pure and simple.

    Like 49
  2. SMH says:

    For once he bringing light to a very disturbing issue. How in the world can they expect first time home buyers, low income people, struggling in this bitter hard time to afford such pricey mortgage. All I see is that these prices are designed to keep the poor people away. It’s designed to suppress and keep others from not attaining owning their own home.

    Like 25
    Dislike 1
  3. Home ownership is never cheap says:

    You need a down payment, monthly mortgage payment, insurance, taxes and maintenance – anywhere in the world!

    It takes sacrifice to buy a home. Skip the weaves, the fancy nails, the fancy cars, the boats and the clubs.

    Like 60
    Dislike 10
  4. MD says:

    “However, it was later realised that many of the homes proved unaffordable and thus out of reach of the pockets of applicants and beneficiaries intended”

    You are correct. Better late than never.

    Like 13
    Dislike 1
  5. What a surprise says:

    The SSB was advised on this before they started construction..I guess no one is responsible for another failure?

    Like 41
    Dislike 1
  6. Youth says:

    I believe nothing this man says.

    Like 9
    Dislike 5
  7. Re-set market rate says:

    What is this market rate? How is it determined? Under capitalist guidelines, that would be as much as you can get instead of perhaps something like cost plus 10-15%. It does, of course, need good cost accounting and construction management practices to make this work.
    Sure, construction costs are ridiculously high, but don’t we get to an impasse when these costs exceed what people here can afford?
    And, should market rates be set by what people from elsewhere with greater means are willing to pay?

  8. Firefighter says:

    Why the hell they don’t just rent out the houses. People can’t afford to buy in first instance. The government can implement a rent to own scheme. Social Security will get their money back.

    Like 46
    Dislike 3
  9. Native says:

    Lease the properties to high official expats or bvislanders at a reasonable rate so when they come they have some where nice to stay w/o worrying where to find living, easy access to work in town plus it’s a gated community. That would work for starters. Let’s face it anyone who is working for less than 45000 us per anum cannot afford to live there!

    Like 13
    Dislike 3
  10. Low income says:

    From Low Income housing to affordable housing to Unaffordable Housing.Lord send help. It is so funny that SOCIAL SECURITY knows the salaries of everyone one in the territory and they really surprised that no one can afford these houses.

    Like 44
    Dislike 1
  11. Same old debt forgiveness for F&F says:

    Pouring public money away line up Friends & Family for your discounted housing,those in real need back of the que. why not rent them at a fair price and retain the asset . Government housing , maintain them properly and evict promptly non payers .

    Like 12
  12. we wouldn't be in this says:


  13. Market Rate??? says:

    When these homes were being constructed, it was already determined who the target market was. Meaning you should have already known what their income was and you should have stayed on the path. Pricing those properties at market value is a disservice to the people you were trying to help. Have y’all seen the properties on this island???
    Now the people who are applying can’t afford them and the people who can won’t come near! Now what??

    Like 17
  14. Facts here says:

    The NDP under Ronnie Skelton is responsible for this nonsense. By the time VIP came in government things were already signed off on. The same Ronnie Skelton who people saying should come back. He better go retire.
    This man mess up too much things around here

    – Peebles hospital overrun of 50 million dollars
    – the incinerator still isn’t fix after his two terms as health minister
    – the mess with NHI
    – social Security housing
    – the housing recovery assistance after hurricane Irma

    Time to give the younger generation a chance. They can do it. You accused Ralph O’Neal of not going home now this is the third time you want to come back. Ralph was never fired by the people. You got fired twice and still want to come back a third time. Stop tripping up younger generation

    Like 11
    Dislike 8
  15. @low income says:

    They are affordable. Take a married couple: one a teacher, one a nurse, who have saved for a down payment. They will be able to pay the mortgage and escrow.

    A single parent on minimum wage will never own a home here or anywhere else. For that, you need public housing like the projects on St. Thomas. Or a gift from their family.

    As to renting these out, if the SSB wants their principal and a reasonable return, those rents will not be affordable to low income people, either. It’s a matter of simple arithmetic.

    Like 15
    Dislike 1
  16. common sense says:

    There is a dumb debate on the terms low income and affordable. Anyhow you term it, persons must qualify for a loan of approximately 300k. Now, in the first instance, anyone who has ever sat before a loans officer knows, and social security management knows for sure, that a person must qualify and be in a financial position to repay any amount of money you are asking the bank to lend you. So, at the onset of the construction plan, they never announced to the public what they expected these homes to cost. So, for persons interested, what would you initially inquire of the bank when you don’t know the cost. A regular low income worker being paid $6.00 to $10.00 per hour if so much cannot repay a 100K loan much less a 300K mortgage.

    Social security decision makers knew exactly what they were doing from the beginning and they knew who they wanted to sell these properties to. Time will tell, but it definitely is not affordable to a low income worker and they know who can afford them. One big scam that will eventually unfold

    Like 18
  17. No lies says:

    How can you look at those houses and think they are for “low income”. Stop the folly. We don’t want a ghetto. More undesirables will pile into this country than there already are.

    Like 8
    Dislike 3
  18. Kokane says:

    The Joe’s Hill scheme is for affluent expats working in the territory that wants a home but don’t want to build from scratch. Not local indigenous people paying rent in the Ghettos up the Ghut East End etc.

    Like 8
    Dislike 3
  19. TurtleDove says:

    @ @low income

    You are correct but this should have been thought of up front. How about no downpayment and the mortgage be a little higher. Easier for some people to come up with 50 to a 100 a month than 30 to 40 thousand up front.

  20. TRUTH says:

    … So now we are seeing the real reason behind the project. This was always the plan. It was said long ago that the contractor was promised one of the buildings for himself (certainly not a first time buyer and certainly not in need) – lets see how this pans out – housing built on government land in a prime location will be sold to pre-determined already wealthy people, who will then rent the units out for inflated pricing. GREAT!

    Like 14
  21. @ Firefighter says:

    It is a good idea to rent them out, but put BVI people in them they will never pay the rent and will always be in arrears. it will be more trouble trying to get them to pay rent. They not going pay nada

    Like 12
  22. @TurtleDove says:

    Many places do government guaranteed low down payment loans for first time buyers, so that is certainly an option. Of course the larger the loan, the higher the income needed.

    That is why I think consumer financial education could go a long way. Many young people do not understand how to budget and save. This project has been in the works for several years. Imagine if they had worked with young people and got them to put aside say, $1,000/month. They would be ready to buy.

  23. Street Reporter. . Agree 100%. says:

    Why they didn’t seek council from St. Kitts as how to construct good quality affordable low income houses. Only when they in trouble they run to Caribbean countries for help, but the Caribbean has a lot of good to offer in constructive affordable development..

    Like 6
    Dislike 2
  24. Rubber Duck says:

    Just another example of government failure to think the thing through. And government incompetence.

    Next time work out what people can afford, then work out what you can provide for that money. Simple basic housing that people can use now but which can be added to and / or improved in the future as they hopefully acquire more money.

    Meanwhile let the houses go to those who need them most and take the hit. After all its nothing like as much as the Premiers office gave themselves and their cronies not long ago

  25. Truth says:

    The same thing happened in the USVI with a similar development. Lovenlund Apartments. The government allowed the people to give a down payment and then rent to own.


    is saying )> ah kno dah sh¿t wur coming ☺ d


    is saying )> ah kno dah sh¿t wur guein happen ☺

  28. RIDICULOUS Market says:

    The so call vluators are the problem. Tbey j
    The Sq 3y pull figures out of the air. For example the condos in Nanny Cay. Those on building were 250000. Now they are $million. Its crazy. Check the loc real estate listings. If you see a house for under $million you will have a repair bill of 200000. To afford a $600,000 the banks are asking for a salary & 15000 monthly. Crazy. How many couples can meet this requirement.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Let me help yall. Make it rent to own to help those that cant afford the down payment.

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  30. Ha says:

    Marlon and his Friday lunch goons who call themselfs elites y’all better wake up to what they trying to do strategically placeing
    He done place he big head puppeteer on ss board to as a reward and to protect rib bone
    Conflicts can’t done

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  31. BVI says:

    BVI people?
    Whola st Vincent goin up there better check who he put on the social security board

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  32. Licher and Sticher Good says:

    This was a terrible idea from the start. Who ever at SSB that agree to use the money for this needs to be in jail. Fahee aka Head Coach and Slow Wande need to be held accountable for this. Why do we always get these sub par leaders in this place

  33. Huh says:

    @ ridiculous market. That is a bit of an exaggeration as to the type of salary you need to get a 600k loan. I do not make 15,000 and I qualified for an 800,000 loan. But I see the argument you are trying to make.

  34. Help says:

    These housing is a creap off and i can not wait for election… The people need to vote out this government.

    How can you afford those house up there. Its not for poor income person…When they started is for first homeowners… after their so call workshop, the cookie jar open up with them saying its not low income person…………..want to steal from the poor to get the rich richer.

    I overheard some people saying. they are not voting and i agree with them…who want to put them in to mess up the country good right ahead. I had enough…i would try my best and pay rent

  35. Shared ownership says:

    The answer is a shared ownership scheme. Purchasors buy as little as 25% share and rent 75%. The owners can then buy further increments of 10% if they want until they get to 100%. When the property is sold the social security board has first refusal to buy back at agreed market rates. Bank of the Virgin Islands can offer an appropriate mortgage product.

    I did this in London and it is a good way to get a foot on the housing ladder.

  36. Frog says:

    Why didn’t they say how much they are? Basic error!

  37. Zee says:

    Why do you think “high official expats “ will want to live I. Low income housing?
    Are you crazy?

  38. Beeny says:

    All housing is affordable. The problem here is that they are not affordable to the target market. Some stupid ppl running this place. Should build more efficiently and make sure no side deals

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