July 13, 2012

HA writes off loans

Elenoa Baselala
Friday, July 13, 2012

HOUSING Authority will write off nine home loans this week as part of its social housing policy.

The policy, which was introduced last year is to assist existing homeowners who are no longer able to meet their mortgage repayments.

"Since the introduction, a total of 170 Fijian families have benefited from the social housing policy nationwide by completely writing off their home loan accounts and giving the mostly retired homeowners peace of mind," acting chief executive officer Fantasha Lockington said.

"The social housing policy is designed to assist those Housing Authority homeowners who are at risk of losing their houses due to non-payment of their home loan accounts because of advanced age, disability or genuine financial difficulty.

"Under the social housing policy, those homeowners who have paid one and a half the principal loan amount, are unemployed because of advanced age or disability and can prove genuine financial difficulty qualify for assistance.

"The policy is not a hand-out but a program that is designed to assist low and middle-income Fijians own their houses sooner rather than later," Ms Lockington said.

Once the homeowners have received assistance under the social housing policy, a caveat is placed on the property to prevent the homeowner or beneficiaries from selling it within 10 years.

"Further to this, the homeowner will not be allowed to take further loans from Housing Authority within this timeframe. The caveat is in place to ensure that the policy assistance is not abused and that is goes to those that genuinely deserve it," Ms Lockington said.

The assistance under the social housing policy is in line with the announcement by the Prime Minister in January, 2011 to ensure that all Fijians have access to decent and affordable housing by the year 2020.

Since 2011, $2.5 million has been given to the Housing Authority from government to enable the social housing policy to benefit more Fijian families by the second half of 2012.

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