National Government lays foundation for more affordable homes

Major steps have been taken in the past year to realize more affordable homes and reduce the cost of housing on Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba. This is clear from the first Progress Report of the Social Housing and Physical Development Policy Agenda for the Caribbean Netherlands which caretaker State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen sent to the Second Chamber today. The progress report shows the developments per island since the start of the implementation of the policy agenda in 2023.

Increasing the standard of living and eradicating poverty on Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba are important goals for the National Government and the Public Entities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba. An affordable home is an important part of a decent livelihood. That is why these parties make a joint effort to construct more affordable homes and to reduce the cost of housing for people with the lowest incomes. A new physical development program will better protect the islands’ uniqueness and beauty, both on land and in the sea.

Saba: accelerated construction and energy-saving appliances

On Saba, the signed Letter of Intent involves, among other things, the development of 50 affordable rental and private homes. In addition, 1.2 million euros was made available for the accelerated construction of 18 social homes by the housing corporation Bazalt Wonen in the Under the Hill-2 project. These homes will be completed in the first quarter of 2024.

The highest point has been reached in all three buildings

Saba has a strong tradition of building one’s own home. However, the costs associated with the preparatory construction works are very high and often not covered by a mortgage. A new regulation will be prepared under which people can receive a contribution to finance preparatory construction works to build their own homes. Examples are excavation works and the construction of the cistern, the septic tank, and the foundation of a new home.

The realized rental costs reduction in the social housing sector on Saba amounts to an average of $158 per month per household. To alleviate energy poverty, the National Government has made 360,000 euros available to reduce housing costs. This money will be used to disburse energy-saving appliances such as fridges, freezers, and stoves to people with the lowest incomes.

Sint Eustatius: reduced cost of housing for 100 households

On Sint Eustatius, the Letter of Intent Social Housing entails the construction of 50 social homes and the renovation of 100 social homes. In addition, $399,000 in rental subsidy was disbursed to reduce the own contribution in the social housing sector. It concerns some 100 households in social homes that on average will pay $333 less per month. Also investigated will be how people with a limited income who are forced to rent in the private sector can attain the right to the rental subsidy.

The National Government has made 450,000 euros available to tackle energy poverty by reducing people’s energy costs. Four solar panels will be installed on every social home. Energy generated by the solar panels during the day will result in a direct reduction of the tenant’s energy bill.

Bonaire: 2,125 affordable homes with housing agreement

On Bonaire, a Housing Agreement was signed. This agreement includes in total of 2,125 new affordable homes up to and including 2030, of which 445 are already being built. Additionally, a cost of housing reduction was implemented for the social housing sector (average $265 per month per household) and a pilot for the private rental sector (average $45 per month per household). Also, the so-called liberalization limit was adapted: from $750 to 937. This enables more tenants to call on the Rental Committee in the social and the private sector. The National Government makes 990,000 euros available to, among other things, install solar panels and battery storage on 118 new social homes of the Bonaire Housing Foundation FCB.

The foundation has been laid

The 2023 Progress Report shows that a lot has happened in the first year of the execution of the Social Housing and Physical Development Policy Agenda. The basis is there: the course as to the content has been set, the financial means have been made available and the execution capacity can be arranged. People are also able to send a reaction to the physical development program Caribbean Netherlands until February 2024.

An amount of $408.000 of so-called flex pool means was made available on all three islands to strengthen the government’s capacity for social housing and physical development. The caretaker National Government and the Executive Councils of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba in 2024 will keep working together on affordable and decent housing for the people.


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