JIS News

Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller has reiterated that the use of National Housing Trust (NHT) funds to provide housing for the poor and dispossessed would not affect contributors, but would instead save thousands from living in squalor.
Mrs. Simpson Miller was speaking yesterday (August 16) at the handing over of 252 housing units in Trench Town under the Inner City Housing Project (ICHP). “What we are doing here will not affect one person making a contribution to NHT, but it will help some people, who if we did not care to do this, would be living in shacks,” the Prime Minister stated. She pointed out that the provision of proper housing units such as these was more than “simply the provision of space. It is about the provision of dignity, pride and of self-esteem, a sense of stability, belonging and ownership”.
Mrs. Simpson Miller paid tribute to former Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson, “for his contribution and for ensuring that we will always keep the poor at the heart and centre of government and governance in this country”. She also applauded the input of Member of Parliament for South St. Andrew, Dr. Omar Davies and Chairman of the National Road Operating and Constructing Company (NROCC), Kingsley Thomas.
She noted that the seven-year, $11.5 Billion Project, which is slated to end in 2010, was a truly holistic and integrated one, an exemplary model of social development. Five thousand units are to be built under the Project and 19 inner city communities will benefit either by way of new units, or refurbishing of existing housing.
The Prime Minister charged the beneficiaries and the community as a whole, to take care of the units, to desist from conflict, and use the spaces constructively, for activities that would uplift the community and promote good neighbourliness.
Further, she commended the developers Astrom Construction Limited for what she said was “a beautiful job”.
Mrs. Simpson Miller noted that under the Project, the beneficiaries have been taught simple principles of economic management, financial responsibility and saving.
“You have been taught to take responsibility of your lives.you have been taught practical skills and given entrepreneurial training, so that you can be empowered to maintain your mortgage payments,” she said.
Mrs. Simpson Miller stressed that the ICHP was built on the premise of a deep abiding faith in the inner cities. “We know that the majority of you, all you need is the help, to achieve greatness. We want to point the young people to another way”. She indicated that to this end, Cabinet was seeking to develop programmes that would give young persons better life choices and help young men in particular, to avoid a life of crime. Mrs. Simpson Miller also commended those young persons who “are fighting against the odds to make themselves better men and women”, and who had not become engaged in a negative lifestyle, despite the challenges and the poverty.
She urged others outside the community not to judge persons based on where they lived, as some of the most successful persons in the country were from poor communities. “Wherever you are, you can rise above (your situation) to be someone great, through sacrifice, hard work and determination,” she told the residents.
Mrs. Simpson Miller assured the gathering that the government was not only committed to the poor and dispossessed, but through actions such as these, continued to make a practical and tangible difference in changing peoples’ lives. “We are determined as a government that people must get a skill. Jamaica must never become victims to globalization. We must become victors of the process,” she asserted.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the NHT, Alva Anderson said the units represented one of the largest clusters to be handed over under the programme. Noting that the NHT had been retooled to address the needs of all categories of beneficiaries, he urged the new home owners to ensure that their mortgage payments were made consistently. Mr. Anderson said investors should look ahead to setting up business operations within the communities, and further implored other agencies to get involved with the programme to help these communities to realize their potential. The Trench Town site consists of 13 two or four-storey apartments with 84 three-bedroom and 168 two-bedroom dwellings as well as a community centre, a day care centre and one parking space per household. The land was previously unoccupied and the beneficiaries are selected from a wide geographical area.
The ICHP is part of the government’s larger Urban Renewal Programme and includes in the Kingston Metropolitan Region and the urban areas of St. Catherine, St. Mary and Westmoreland.