The government is expanding home ownership for Bahamians in South Andros and Mangrove Cay.

The Ministry of Housing wants to revive and expand the Money Rock community and begin occupancy of the Mangrove Cay subdivision outside Moxey Town.

The cost of packages in those subdivisions is still to be determined. Resident Androsians will be given first preference. Application forms were left with Chief Councilors.

Androsians can purchase serviced lots or have their homes built through a government low cost program.

And, any system-home built through the Ministry of Housing is available duty free.

“The government wants to get as many persons as possible into their own homes,” said Minister of Housing Kenneth Russell who, along with his technical team, toured Money Rock in the Bluff, South Andros, and the Mangrove Cay subdivision.

Mr. Russell said the Ministry of Housing will be implementing additional programs including rent-to-own programs and the building of system-homes.

“We are going around now inspecting all the subdivisions we have in the Ministry of Housing,” he said. “Our goal is to get all of them completed and up and running as soon as possible, and to have persons living in them.”

Minister Russell was accompanied by acting permanent secretary Melvin Seymour, first assistant secretaries Lithfield Rolle and Leslie Dean, and technical staff Lorenzo Moss, Jeffrey Clarke and Chemaco Brown.

The group was met by South Andros District Officer-in-Charge Inspector Sidney Rolle, Chief Councilors Zebedee Rolle and Lenward Saunders and other Local Government officials.

Mr. Russell noted that while the Money Rock subdivision has the potential to grow by several hundred lots, he believes the residents of South Andros are more interested in having their various settlements expanded to accommodate the persons who are from those settlements.

“But, we now have 14 lots in Money Rock that are already serviced and we seek to, first of all, sell those 14 lots either as serviced lots or by building houses on them for people interested in housing.

“Then we will petition the Land and Surveys Department to find out if there are any available land around the settlements in South Andros, and if that is possible, look at developing areas in those settlements for persons who live in there and want to stay there to be able to remain right there at home.”

At the Mangrove Cay subdivision, Mr. Russell said he was concerned about the size of the lots and the ability of low-income families to afford them.

The smallest lot there is 12,000 square feet compared to the smallest government lot in Nassau which is 5,000 square feet.

“While we have land to make lots on,” he said, “we still have persons in Mangrove Cay who would not be able to afford the large lots based on the cost and the funding we put into the development of them.

“People who are poor will find it very difficult…so we have to look at the possibility of splitting some of the land to make smaller lots for people of real low income to be able to afford them.

“I believe that the people of Mangrove Cay are ready to move forward with their subdivision. They are ready to purchase lots and build homes. They have some concerns and we will address them.

“As for Money Rock, there are some things that must be done first before we can say that we are going full speed ahead.

“We will work on those things immediately so that the people of South Andros can realize their dream of owning their own land.”

Mr. Russell pointed out that he Ministry of Housing has no intention of encouraging land speculation.

“We intend to screen out persons who are coming from different islands and different countries to purchase housing land to sit on it. We encourage people to buy the land to build on.”

The amount of available land in the Family Islands, he said, is “phenomenal”.

“But in New Providence we are going to have a problem with land soon,” Mr. Russell noted. “I don’t think we have a problem today. We are getting 60 acres in a couple of weeks and we know there is more than that.

“But sooner or later we are going to run into a problem with land and I hope that between now and then we can educate our people to the point where they can understand that living a condominium style is not a sin. It is just a different form of living.

“Where you don’t have land and you have to put more persons on the same land, in order to do that you have to go condominium style. I hope that gradually we accept that as a way of living. In Freeport we have accepted that already.”