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“Government is committed to make a real difference in solving the housing crisis. The majority of letters that I receive from our citizens is about their hardship and sacrifice in their pursuit of a place

they can call home.

Every family ought to be assisted in line with their genuine needs, and each family ought to contribute in line with their means.  We have limited resources, and consequently, Government must ensure that people contribute appropriately in order for more families to be assisted.” President Faure SONA 2018
The scarcity of flat land on which to build essential infrastructure due to the phenomenal narrow coastal plains of our main islands (Mahé, Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette), where the bulk of our population reside, is common knowledge. Moreover, the steepness of these granitic islands’ mountain slopes, national parks and nature reserves limits the altitude at which housing and other infrastructure projects can be undertaken, as stipulated by law.
Given the huge number of citizens who are presently proud owners of land and their own homes, it must have come as a shock to many Seychellois, especially the younger generation, to find out that before 1977 land ownership in Seychelles was limited to about no more than 60 families. That was the stark reality and the truth, so let it be known that, without acquisition of large, undeveloped parcels of land on which to build essential infrastructure such as houses, clinics, roads, schools amongst others for the benefit of the population in general, development in Seychelles would have been seriously constrained.
Thus, reclamation of land from the sea, although resisted by the opposition, was the most viable option to create more land for construction of various critical infrastructure and other purposes.
So far, the ongoing housing projects on Ile Perseverance is the most ambitious in the country, if not in the entire African Region. But we are still nowhere near our target for social housing. However, it is heartening to note that housing remains high on Government’s priority list. During the time that he has been in office, President Danny Faure has focused a lot of his energy in an effort to address the housing crisis. We publish below some of the achievements in the housing sector over the last 3 years.
Among the Cabinet decisions taken in relation to land and housing with a view to better address the prevailing housing issues in the country are the following:

Review of the Criteria on the Land Points System

Cabinet approved new criteria for the Land Points system. The new system will ensure transparency in the process of land application and allocation. The implementation of the Land Points system has led to an increase in the number of applicants who now qualify for land.

Seychelles Geodetic Network Campaign

Cabinet approved the Seychelles Geodetic Network Campaign. The Geodetic Control Network will contribute towards:

* Reduction in time for cadastral survey due to available reliable controls, professional integrity of land surveyors due to reduction of inconsistencies in surveys carried out relating to the same survey work;
* Social stability due to reduction in boundary disputes;
* Improved project timelines during design stage when conducting engineering survey works due to readily available controls; and
* Compatibility of data gathered from surveying works carried out by various international organisations for specialised need who mostly used WGS84, an internationally recognized datum.

Policy for House Construction Assistance by Government on Private properties

Cabinet approved the policy which defined the categories in which Government would assist individuals with construction. The policy defines the type and standards for these projects and the mechanism and participatory contribution assessment. The project which is on-going has improved living conditions, satisfying the need for decent housing for families.

Development Proposal for Ile Aurore

Cabinet approved the development plan for Ile Aurore based on the Land Use Plan prepared as part of the Victoria Master Plan. 1500 housing units was proposed, of which 1000 would fall under the social housing group with recreational areas for children in the green spaces. Buildings of ground plus 8 was also proposed in the mixed use category. Educational facilities (private and public) and an International Convention Centre was also proposed on the Island.
This project will provide land for commercial and other uses and an increase in the delivery of social housing to meet the increasing demand.

Finance Design and Build Residential Apartment Blocks on Ile Perseverance by Private Sector

Cabinet approved the proposal of mechanism for allocating land on Ile Perseverance for the private sector to develop residential apartments, part of which would be for sale by developer to open market and the other part would be sold at a price stipulated by Government for applicants at affordable rates. Cabinet approved that for the first 15 years the developers would be given a grace period at nominal rate.
Cabinet also approved a proposal to allow foreign owned class 1 construction companies to partner with Seychellois investors to finance design and build residential apartment blocks on Ile Perseverance by the private sector. Following this, additional lots have been offered to private developers, conditional to obtaining sanction. This project will lead to increased availability of residential units for both open market and affordable groups nominated by the Ministry of Habitat, Infrastructure and Land Transport.

Phasing Out of Old Emergency Housing Units

After Cabinet was updated on the state of the various units in the country, a proposal was approved to phase out the units that had outlived their life span over a period of two years. Re-location of tenants is ongoing as housing projects become available. This relocation will lead to long term housing solutions for the tenants.

Policy on Government Assistance for Reconstruction of Residential Units Destroyed by Fire

In order to assist victims of fire disasters, Cabinet approved the form of assistance that Government will provide for the re-construction of residential units. The approval also included the financial participation by home owners who have been affected. This policy is already being implemented and will allow for prompt rehabilitation of families affected by fires.

Construction of Temporary Housing Units for Emergency Purposes

Being mindful of the need for housing of citizens in the event of an emergency, Cabinet approved for the construction of a temporary housing project in which 42 transition units was proposed to be built at Barbarons. The project which has led to an increase in availability of transition units for people affected by disasters or in need of temporary re-location has been completed and is in operation.

Part Rental Assistance Policy

The Policy which provides the framework and guidelines for part rental assistance from the Government to housing applicants was approved by Cabinet. The policy provides support to housing applicants who cannot be assisted with a house at a particular moment in time but has seen a need to rent out privately whilst they wait to be assisted but are facing financial difficulties.
The policy has led to better co-ordination and communication between Ministry of Habitat, Infrastructure and Land Transport, the Social Affairs and the Local Government Departments.
The Policy was published in November 2018 and implementation started in January 2019. Increased clarity in the process and better case management will lead to a reduction in potential for abuse of the system.

Social Housing Management and Allocation Policy

Cabinet approved the new Policy which provides the framework for allocation and management of social housing. It also provides clear guidance on specific terms and conditions under which those houses are allocated and these will be reflected in the agreements made by the Property Management Corporation (PMC) upon allocation of units to successful applicants.
The policy makes provision for the Housing Point System, the allocation committee and procedures. It also highlights who is eligible to apply for social housing. It is expected that the new policy framework will provide a more structured approach to housing allocation and client management, thus allowing the Department to have reliable data to plan ahead.
The policy is in full implementation since June 2019 for the allocation of the Transit Homes at Barbarons.

Condominium and Self-Financed Allocation Policy

Cabinet approved the Policy for Condominium and Self-finance Housing, which provides clear eligibility criteria for Condominium and Self-Financed Housing and provides the framework and guideline for allocation of those housing units. The Policy, which was published in November 2018 and is being implemented, provides for clear qualification criteria for applicants to make the selection process more transparent.

Increase in Housing Loans Limit for Inner Islands

In view of increasingly high costs of transportation of construction materials to the islands, which consequently contributes to the high cost of construction, Cabinet approved a proposal to address the conditions for housing loans for applicants on La Digue and Praslin. Cabinet approved for a reduction in personal contributions for those applying through the Housing Finance Corporation (HFC). This has resulted in less time for applicants to qualify for a loan and direct benefits towards their construction.

Exchange Policy on Houses and Lands

In order to provide for clarity and uniformity into how exchange cases for land and houses are treated, Cabinet approved the Policy for all types of exchange transaction. Policy was implemented in March 2018.
In addition to the major achievements cited above, key decisions from President Faure’s State of the Nation Addresses (SONA) were implemented including the following.

Review the Land Allocation System

In the new revision, the financial ability of applicants has been lowered from 800, 000 Rupees to 550, 000 Rupees. The salary requirement has decreased from 15, 000 Rupees to 12, 000 Rupees a month. For those applications where the salary is lower, the Ministry of Habitat, Infrastructure and Land Transport takes any savings into account.

Construction of 24 Units in 24 Districts in 24 Months (24-24-24)

As of October 2019, 186 housing units have been completed and allocated in 6 districts, (36 Mont Buxton, 42 Grand Anse Mahé, 24 Baie Ste Anne, 36 St Louis, 24 Beau Vallon and 24 La Digue). 283 housing units are still under construction in 14 districts (18 Grand Anse Praslin, 16 Bel Ombre, 24 Bel Air, 24 English River, 18 Anse Aux Pins, 24 Anse Etoile, 25 Port Glaud, 24 Anse Royale, 16 Mont Fleuri, 24 Pointe Larue, 16 Roche Caiman, 8 Les Mamelles, 22 Plaisance and 24 Cascade).
It is well worthy of note that these figures are specifically for the 24-24-24 project initiated by President Danny Faure and do not include construction and allocation of other housing units in the districts or on Ile Perseverance.

Increase in Housing Finance Corporation (HFC) Loan Tenure

This facility to increase loan tenure from 23 years to 30 years became effective in July 2019 and is being offered to new clients as well as to existing ones who have loans with HFC.

New Loan for Surveys

The loan facility was introduced in July 2019 for families who have land but lack the financial means to survey their property. So far applications have been submitted from at least two districts.

New Instrument for Home Improvement

The new instrument for home improvement is for families who have been clients for more than 12 years. The facility is available and so far applications have come in from at least nine (9) districts.

600 Housing Units in 16 Districts

The project to construct 600 housing units in 16 districts as part of the 3000 houses projects is being financed by Government of India through a soft loan. 45 sites have been identified and proposals for 25 sites have already been prepared.
In spite of the unwavering commitment and all the resources being invested by the Government of Seychelles to address the housing problem, the demand continues to rise because, in line with existing housing policy, every Seychellois family’s aspiration is to have their own home. Unfortunately, one of the main constraints is availability of suitable land for construction of housing units and related amenities.
It is also abundantly clear that, in spite of the strong political will and herculean determination, Government alone will not be able to meet the needs for social housing. Hence, the renewed call and new initiatives to bring the private sector on board in a genuine win-win situation across the board.

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