Members of the Committee on Housing, Transportation and Telecommunications, led by Senator Marvin A. Blyden, toured the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority Tax Credit Properties, Co-Ops, and St. Thomas Senior Communities.
Senators met with Virgin Islands Finance Housing Authority Rental Manager Nichole Johnson as tours were conducted of the facilities. Johnson stated that there is limited housing stock available. The Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority is responsible for emergency housing.
Senator Carla Joseph reminded tour attendees that the Virgin Islands is in a housing crisis. Joseph mentioned that residents are concerned about rent prices in the free market and are reluctant to move from public housing. Major concerns presented during the tour included issues with unit management, maintenance, and age of some units. Some properties are completely at capacity with waiting lists from three to five years.
Rental Manager Nichole Johnson stated that a pressing issue is that tenants have been in some communities so long that they feel grandfathered and entitled to emergency housing, even if the time allotted for such has expired. Johnson further said the government should find innovative ways to introduce new housing, including container homes and modular homes.
Chairman Blyden gave brief remarks on the tour:
“It was quite informative and engaging to see what is going on in the tax credit and cooperative communities. We have seen improvements in common areas and exteriors. There is much more to be done to the exterior ground facilities and common areas. My colleagues and I look forward to working with property owners and management in improving living conditions for our people.”
Properties included on today’s tour were the Staabiland Apartments, Amalie Terrace, Charlotte Emergency Housing, Celestino A. White Senior Citizens Residence, Pearson Gardens Co-Op, Thomasville, Grandview, Lovenlund, and Magens Junction.
Senators present at today’s tour included Marvin A. Blyden, Ray Fonseca, Carla J. Joseph, Kenneth L. Gittens and Milton E. Potter.