Home Substantial portion Opinion: Chad Powell Jr is right – Caymanians face serious challenges

Opinion: Chad Powell Jr is right – Caymanians face serious challenges

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Readers should note that editorials do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Loop Cayman.


by Alric Lindsay

Young Caymanian Chad Anthony Powell Jr’s three-minute speech to the UK House of Commons in the UK Youth Parliament recently was a moving and touching display of Mr Powell’s love and concern for these people. he is.

The dangers Mr. Powell considered, however, with respect to the challenges of affordable housing, brain drain and climate change, apply not just to young Caymanians, but to all Caymanians seeking participation in their own country.

Lodging

On affordable housing, Mr. Powell lamented:

I love the Cayman Islands and plan to live and grow old there one day. But the immensely high cost of living and our disastrous housing crisis caused a lot of people my age, a lot of people like me, not just to think about it, but to have it pretty much, not even in mind , without even thinking about it… they will move away.

In my opinion, Mr. Powell is spot on here; Cayman has a housing crisis. In fact, I believe that this crisis is influenced by many variables, some of which are frequently discussed by government ministers and described in reports, including the recent population census report produced by the Office of economics and statistics.

Looking at the census report, for example, it is clear that a significant portion of the population earns less than $3,000 a month, below what some claim is necessary to meet the high cost of living in the Cayman Islands and underwater at the top GDP per capita is often praised by the country’s employees.

As for what the current government has done about the situation, I have to be honest and say that they have not just stood by and let people suffer.

Instead, members of the new government stepped in to help, including setting up new programs to cover some living expenses.

These programs include postponing electricity tariff increases, restructuring the Needs Assessment Unit (NAU) to make it more efficient, and working with stakeholders to come up with further ideas on how to soften the blow to those who live and work in the Cayman Islands. .

In addition to the efforts of the current government, various community organizations come to the aid of people in need from time to time. This assistance includes food stamp and utility programs, as well as assistance for some people who occasionally find themselves homeless.

Regarding the availability of affordable housing, Housing Minister Jay Ebanks is executing plans for more affordable housing on Grand Cayman. The reality he may face, however, is that there may be hundreds more applications for affordable housing than there are affordable housing units built by the government or put on the market.

Despite these efforts, not much can be done because the government and charities are limited to what their resources allow them to do.

The risk of an inevitable depletion of resources is exacerbated by other factors impacting the Cayman Islands market, including lending rates and property speculation.

On lending rates, for example, banks have consistently raised interest rates on loans throughout 2022, which they say they have done to match the Council’s increases in lending rates. governors of the US Federal Reserve.

If this continues, those who were living hand-to-mouth and near the financial limit before the rate increases could soon be homeless.

The danger of not having a home was also echoed in Mr Powell’s speech to the UK’s Youth Parliament when he explained that after speaking to other people his age their concern was that “it’s too expensive to live” in Cayman and that they “will never be able to afford a house” in Cayman” and will have to “move”.

Powell pointed out that it was “Not that they want to, but they have to… Because if given the choice, they would definitely stay in our beautiful islands.”

As part of the affordable housing solution, Mr Powell mentioned that last year his Youth Parliament proposed a motion titled “Restriction on high cost housing and implementation of land purchase licenses and housing for non-Caimanians”.

Mr Powell explained: ‘This was an effort to get restrictions on house prices and the purchase of property by people not even residing in the Cayman Islands.’

However, this motion appears to have fallen on deaf ears as, since the motion was proposed by Mr Powell’s Youth Parliament, the sale of property in Cayman remains without any price or ownership restrictions.

In fact, international speculators see Cayman as ripe for development and profits and are seeking special local business control licenses (which do not require Caymanian participation for 12 years if granted) to operate as a as property developers and real estate agents.

With no moratoriums imposed on rapid development, no long-term sustainability plans, and no restrictions implemented as Powell implied, land and buildings will be subject to constant and growing speculation, putting forever land ownership beyond the reach of average Caymanians and any foreign worker living in the Cayman Islands earning less than $3,000 a month.

In other words, instead of creating net worth for Caymanians, more net worth will be created for high net worth internationals, some of whom may not be materially affected by the high cost of living and other issues facing Caymanians face.

Without market intervention or a moratorium, Powell’s prophecy (and that of his colleagues) is correct: more Caymanians “will leave”, including those currently living in Cayman and young Caymanian university graduates who will be looking for accommodation elsewhere outside of Cayman.

Brain drain

By making the decision to leave Caymans permanently or not to decide to return to live in Caymans, a negative and unforeseen outcome may materialize.

In particular, the leaders of our economic pillars will take note, when the time comes, of the high number of qualified Caymanian professionals who no longer wish to return to the Cayman Islands to contribute to local businesses, leading to what Mr. Powell calls a “leakage”. brains” occurring in other parts of the Caribbean.

Bizarrely, while a “brain drain” is predicted for Caymanians, Cayman’s population is steadily increasing to 100,000, adding to the more than 100 nationalities that already live here.

In my opinion, this suggests that one or more of the following scenarios may take place:

  • that the hundreds of other nationalities who live here may find a way (unknown to Caymanians) to cope with the high cost of living; Where
  • that members of certain other nationalities may be offered lucrative opportunities not available to Caymanians

Regardless of these (or any other) scenarios that might exist, it is obvious that no one except Mr. Powell and his colleagues is bold enough to both speak out publicly and take meaningful policy action. to further reduce the suffering of many Caymanians. .

Failing to approach the problem in the way suggested by Mr. Powell may also mean that ultimately the situation could become absolutely unbearable for a significant number of Caymanians.

Needless to say, once circumstances become unbearable, some members of society will make bad decisions and engage in criminal activities, including robbery and robbery, to appropriate rather than gain what that they need.

If Cayman’s social and economic climate continues to heat up as it has of late, then the concern raised by Mr. Powell is correct; we could possibly lose all of our Caymanians, while strangely and simultaneously creating non-Caymanian beneficiaries with a long, safe and secure economic future.