JIS News

The Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) will be providing more than 13,000 housing solutions across the island over the next three years, with 2, 100 of these to come on stream during the 2009 calendar year.
Managing Director of the HAJ, Joseph Shoucair, made the disclosure during a press conference on Friday (Dec. 12) at the Iberostar Hotel in Rose Hall to outline the future plans of the agency.
“Early in calendar year 2009, ground will be broken for the construction of 56 two-bedroom houses at Stadium Gardens, St. Andrew,” he informed.
Also during the year, construction will begin on 137 townhouses at Mineral Heights, Clarendon; approximately 260 two-bedroom houses at Portmore Villa, St. Catherine; 49 starter housing units at Luana, St. Elizabeth; 70 two-bedroom houses at Bushy Park, Clarendon; and 58 serviced lots at Melrose in Manchester.
In addition, Mr. Shoucair informed that “270 service lots will be constructed at Luana in St. Elizabeth in furtherance of joint venture arrangements with the National Housing Trust (NHT), and two large projects are planned for St Ann, to yield a mix of some 1, 200 housing solutions”.
The projects, which are in keeping with the agency’s three-year strategic plan, are expected to yield surpluses that will strengthen the HAJ’s financial base and provide a pool of available funding for other projects.
Mr. Shoucair said that come January, he will be leading at team to all the communities to be impacted by the new developments, to engage community members and exchange ideas as to the way forward.
In the meantime, he indicated that discussions have commenced with the government of China to identify new sources of grants and concessionary funding to enable the HAJ to efficiently execute its mandate of providing affordable housing for Jamaicans.
He added that the agency must also seek to dispose of real estate that are not suitable for development in furtherance of its business.
The HAJ has replaced the National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC), which was responsible for the Operation Pride housing programme. The agency has been re-organized, and its management team and technical capabilities strengthened, with a view to achieving new levels of excellence. This has led to the number of staff positions being reduced from 141 to 117, and the agency’s financial obligations have been made current and new sources of funding identified.
Cabinet, last month approved a board of directors to guide the agency. Mr. Shoucair indicated that the board has approved the three-year strategic plan.
He said that the agency must fine-tune a new strategy for the development of informal settlements, and the enhancement of the community organizational structure, which is part of the Operation Pride portfolio.

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