Liberians are graduating from being renters or tenants by possessing affordable homes under a CBL-sponsored mortgage stimulus initiative. The mortgage stimulus program is being carried out through the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI). CBL or Central Bank of Liberia launched a US$10 million mortgage stimulus program in 2012, by which Liberians can apply for the purchase, renovation and completion of their own houses, among others. It is a part of CBL’s ongoing Loan Extension program across Liberia.

Ceremonies marking the signing and certification of the first batch of qualified applicants were held on Wednesday, February 27, 2013, at the LBDI Headquarters on 9th Street in Sinkor, Some tenants of the Matadi Estate were awarded mortgage certificates.

Speaking at the occasion, CBL’s Executive Governor, Dr. J. Mills Jones, described the mortgage initiative as an example of public-private partnership. He said the mortgage stimulus program has been the agenda of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to raise the living standards of Liberians. “There is no other way we can do it than to provide affordable houses for the people,” he maintained.

Governor Jones then challenged all stakeholders to work together so that government’s objectives can be achieved.

According to him, the commitment of stakeholders would lead to what he called “developing a proper mortgage industry in Liberia.” The CBL Boss expressed the belief that this will develop and build the economy.

He, on behalf of the CBL Board of Directors, assured the bank’s continuous support to LBDI and other commercial banks for a vibrant stimulus program as well as the National Housing Authority (NHA).

Also speaking, NHA Managing Director, Samuel W. Thompson, declared as “groundbreaking” the mortgage initiative because, as he put it, recipients are leaving the renter status to house owners; something he said contributes to the economy.

“These properties can be used for collateral or other ways by the owners to educate their children and get other basic needs,” Thompson said. He added that such a system does not only improve the economy, it also strengthens peace and security because people will be in their own homes.

At the same time, the NHA Boss said the February 28 deadline for mortgage application for people occupying public housing units is irreversible because, according to him, the deadline has been extended on several occasions.

“There are other Liberians who have the capacity seeking such an opportunity you have, so the February 28 deadline mortgage applicants stands,” he stressed. He said the NHA, in line with the President’s vision, wants to see Liberians having their one houses.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, LBDI’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), John B. S. Davies, said the demand for housing is high as evidenced by the many applications his institution has received.

So far, Davies disclosed that the LBDI has received more than ninety (90) applications that are being processed through what he called due diligence. However, he revealed that forty (40) applicants have been approved.  

The LBDI boss admitted challenges in the process, but said they were overcoming them. According to him, residents of the Matadi Estate and other customers are the first batch to receive the mortgage certificate

Davies also told recipients to serve as ambassadors to inform the people about the program.

He was also quick to note that the mortgage program is not exclusively for Monrovia, but intended to extend across the country.

Davies estimated as US$2 million to cover applicants that will be processed from now to March 15, 2013, appealing to the CBL to double its support.

The program was also graced by other CBL staff, invited guests including former LBDI President Francis Dennis, Liberia Business Association (LIBA) President, D. Maxwell Kemanyan, who made remarks and recipients, among others.

Meanwhile, the beneficiaries praised the government through LBDI and CBL for the opportunity given them.  They also vowed to live up to the terms and conditions of the mortgage program. Nine persons were awarded mortgage certificates on Wednesday. -Fredrick P. W. Gaye