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In a first for the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), 500 houses were allocated in a live draw yesterday. The HDC has previously done random lotteries for home allocations but those were not public draws.

Addressing a virtual audience on the HDC’s social media platforms, Housing Minister Edmund Dillon said the ministry and HDC are trying to address a backlog of 180,000 applicants.

Dillon said since 2015, the HDC has allocated 3,000 units to eligible applicants. That 3,000 included the allocation of 525 homes to members of the protective services and the Defence Force.

“We continue to fulfil what I consider one of the basic needs of men or women, we will continue to do so because the government do believe that we have a duty to provide housing, to provide shelters to our citizens especially those in the low and middle-income bracket,” he said.

“We are happy to do when one considers the amount of people on our database, we have to come up with creative solutions.”

Dillon said given calls for social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the HDC decided to do the draw live for transparency and accountability.

He said those selected in yesterday’s draw were applicants who applied for homes in the Arima, Chaguanas and San Fernando areas.

Other criteria for the draw were citizenship and a household income between $4,000 and $25,000.

Dillon said in the coming months, 600 more applicants will be selected for housing in another random draw.

“We have every intention of continuing distribution, we have the intention of doing so through random draws and through other criteria, providing for the defence and protective services, for those are challenged and all other as mandated by government’s policy.”

He said the Government remains committed to exploring viable housing initiatives to augment the State housing stock so more families can get homes.

“Given available resources, we at the Ministry and the HDC will do all we can to meet some of the pent up demand for housing. Today is a happy moment because we are broadening the scope, widening the catchment area, to ensure a larger amount of our citizens can benefit from our housing programme.”