Recently, the National Housing Trust (NHT) invited contributors to apply for 33 apartments and townhouses at Unions Estate at Twickenham Park, St. Catherine. ‘Paulette’ and her husband ‘Simon’ were among those short-listed for loan interviews. However, their friend ‘Maxine’, who had also applied for an apartment, was not so fortunate. “I’m glad for them,” Maxine says, “but I still want to know how NHT selects people from all the numbers who apply. I want to have an idea of why I didn’t get through.”
The following are the bases on which the NHT short-lists applicants for scheme benefits.
WHERE YOU LIVE OR WORK
“There is a high demand for scheme units.” says Joyce Simms Wilson, NHT’s Assistant General Manager, Branch Network. “Because we have a lot more applicants than units, the NHT has a strict selection process.” According to Mrs. Wilson, when the applications are received, they are first sorted to ensure that only applicants living or working in the target area are placed in the main selection pool. In the case of Union Estate, persons living in Kingston, St. Andrew and parts of St. Catherine were eligible to apply.
HOW MUCH YOU EARN
“Once we are sure everybody is from the geographical area covered by the scheme, we will then award points to each applicant based on his/her income”, Mrs. Wilson says. The points range from 70 to 110. She points out that because part of NHT’s mandate is to facilitate housing among lower incomes persons, the NHT gives minimum-wage earners a jump start by automatically granting them 110 points for income. This contrasts with someone who earns over $20,000 per week, who will get just 70 points for income.
NUMBER OF WEEKLY CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE NHT
Applicants are also awarded points based on the number of weekly contributions they make to the Trust. Twenty points are awarded for each full year (52 weeks) of contributions. So, for example, an applicant who has 15 full years of NHT contributions will get 300 points for contributions (15×20).
CALCULATING YOUR POINTS
The following example shows how many points a contributor earning $20,000 weekly and who has made 20 years contributions to the NHT, would have when he applied for Unions Estate:
Points earned from income = 70
Points earned from 25 years of contributions = 500 (i.e. 25×20)
Total points earned = 570
Once the points of individual applicants are assigned, the NHT selects those applicants with the highest number and invites them in for interviews.
AFTER SELECTION IS MADE
Mrs. Wilson states that having your name appear on the selections list in the newspaper, does not mean that you will be automatically awarded a loan to buy one of the advertised houses. Publishing the list simply means that the NHT would like to talk with the applicant to determine if he/she meets all the qualifying conditions for the loan, including the ability to afford the loan.
“There is always some disappointment after the listing is published.” Mrs. Wilson says, “But I want to assure prospective homeowners that the NHT is stepping up its housing programme. Unions Estate is being developed in three phases, so our contributors can expect to see more units on the market in 2010.” While m0st will go to other partners in the joint development, the NHT expects to market a significant number among its contributors. She therefore encourages contributors to keep applying when schemes are available, but adds that they should also find out about the other available NHT home ownership products.