The Honorable Alden McLaughlin, Premier of the Cayman Islands, stated that housing is the largest factor in the rising cost-of-living in the Cayman Islands, in his 2020/21 Budget Policy Statement at the Legislative Assembly in November 2019.
Despite initiatives with the National Housing Development Trust (NHDT), and the Government Guaranteed Home Assisted Mortgage (GGHAM) programme, as well as concessions on stamp duty fees for Caymanians and first-time home-owners, affordable housing for all residents remains a concern. The average cost of rental accommodation in Cayman has increased by 19.3 percent, as reported by the Economics and Statistics Office Consumer Price Index Report: April to June 2019, since the same quarter of 2018.
Minister for Health, Environment, Culture and Housing, Hon. Dwayne Seymour stated: “The significant rise to the cost of living and its effects on residents is a priority that government is working towards finding a solution for.”
Echoing Mr. Seymour’s statement, Minister for Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure, Hon. Joseph Hew added: “The more people spend on housing, the less they spend on goods and services. As our population grows, we have to examine sustainable solutions to avoid a housing bubble, while still being able to grow our economy.”
Both Mr. Hew and Mr. Seymour are spearheading the initiative, and the Strategic Reform Implementations Unit (SRIU), within the Office of the Deputy Governor (ODG), is facilitating the process of finding solutions to these challenges. This process kicked off on 12 February, 2020 with a series of ‘think-tank’ and one-on-one sessions that engaged more than 50 stakeholders. SRIU Senior Advisor Matthew Hylton, shared that the purpose of the sessions “is to engage stakeholders to explore the factors behind the housing challenges, discuss ideas to help alleviate the problem, and suggest solutions towards affordable housing in the Cayman Islands.”
Public sector engagement in the first phase of consultations included representation by key stakeholders including the Needs Assessment Unit, the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Planning. Representation from the private sector included those working in construction, development, consulting, utilities, finance, banking, and real estate.
Simon Watson, a partner at chartered surveyors and property consulting firm Charterland, signalled his backing of the think-tank sessions, saying: “We need to look at factors effecting housing issues from all angles in order to best determine a way forward. I am in full support of this great initiative and in helping to find solutions to make housing more affordable.”
After the initial series of think-tank sessions, Mr. Hylton advised that the SRIU will be moving onto the second phase of consultations. This next phase will involve detailed exploration of the key issues and potential solutions, identified in phase one sessions, in order to advance the work required to identify solutions that address the main affordable housing concerns.
The SRIU welcomes input from stakeholders whose work impacts housing, or is impacted by housing and accommodation, and those that would like to be part of the process of finding affordable housing solutions for the Cayman Islands. Interested persons are asked to contact Matthew Hylton at: Matthew.Hylton@gov.ky
For more information, please contact: Matthew Hylton, Senior Advisor, SRIU Mattthew.Hylton@gov.ky