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Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has announced that the National Housing Trust (NHT) would allocate $500 million per annum to assist contributors who, because of their income levels, were unable to qualify for a housing benefit.
Making her contribution to the 2006/07 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday (May 9), Mrs. Simpson Miller said she was determined that, “more of our people at the bottom of the economic ladder, who are contributors to the Trust, should be able to qualify to own a home”.
The Prime Minister said she was deeply concerned about these contributors, as some persons could not now afford to purchase a house, even at the current minimum interest rate of two per cent.
“They deserve not just a mere chance but balance in their lives,” she said, explaining that under the subsidized housing plan, “when they qualify and have realized their dream of satisfactory shelter for themselves and their families, the NHT will determine the criteria for repayment, based on what they can afford to pay in a sustained manner”.
In addition, Mrs. Simpson Miller disclosed that the NHT would be allocating a grant of $150 million to provide shelter solutions for the indigent, poor senior citizens, and the disadvantaged.
“These persons will have the benefit of shelter, fit for human habitation for the rest of their lives,” she remarked, noting that these were bold initiatives to “broaden the pool of beneficiaries to ensure that we also provide and account for those who contribute, are in need of shelter, but cannot meet the criteria. It is also geared to meet the needs of special groups, such as the indigent”.
Consistent with its mandate, the NHT will also be providing 1,205 housing solutions in schemes across six parishes, including Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Trelawny, St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland.
In relation to housing projects for tourism workers, the Prime Minister noted that this year, 12 new projects consisting of 1,872 new units would be constructed in the parishes of Westmoreland and Hanover. “Our tourism workers must be properly housed in communities that are convenient to their place of employment,” she emphasized.
This year, Mrs. Simpson Miller further highlighted, under the Sugar Workers Housing Programme, workers in this sector would benefit from an additional 862 serviced lots at Worthy Park in St. Catherine, Stokes Hall in St. Thomas, Long Pond, and Hampden in Trelawny.
This is part of a programme involving an additional subsidy of up to $2.5 billion to assist with the building of housing solutions.
“This not only impacts the lives of the sugar workers. It improves the quality of life of the rural communities, which is an integral part of our rural development,” she stated.