The Full Story
Norma ‘Peaches’ Folkes from Port Maria in St. Mary, whose living situation was compromised by severe flooding in 2021, has received the keys to a brand new two-bedroom dwelling under the Government’s indigent housing programme.
The $9 million unit was handed over to Ms. Folkes on Friday (January 13) by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness and Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie.
Built to prevent flooding, the structure is made of reinforced concrete, with a tropical design and sloped roof for water harvesting. It was outfitted with beds, dressers, a stove, dining table and chairs, and washtub before it was handed over to Ms. Folkes.
“Your house is quite dignified,” said Prime Minister Holness, who noted the quality design and features.
“I hold the view and continue to hold that not because someone is poor that they should get poor housing. I believe that shelter, along with education, are the critical elements of poverty response,” he noted.
Mr. Holness said that the indigent housing programme shows that the Government is “responding to providing housing solutions for persons affected by disaster…persons who are indigent, meaning they are not in a position to assist themselves.”
For his part, Minister McKenzie noted that he heard of Ms. Folkes’ plight when he visited St. Mary following the 2021 flood rains, which severely impacted the parish.
“The house that Peaches and her family occupied was totally flooded out and the cry was that Peaches needs help,” he recalled.
Minister McKenzie said he gave instructions to the Mayor of Port Maria and to the Technical Director in the Ministry to “proceed with haste to have something done to assist Peaches and her family”.
On being handed her keys, Ms. Folkes, who received thunderous cheers from members of the community gathered for the occasion, expressed gratitude to all involved in the process of building her new home.
“Give thanks and praises,” she said repeatedly, as she fought back tears.
The indigent housing programme is an initiative of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
It is designed to specifically address the challenges of substandard housing by providing more effective ways to respond to the needs of citizens for decent shelter.
Applicants for the programme are screened through the Poor Relief Department in each municipality.
In addition to establishing a need, the applicant must provide proof of ownership of the land on which the shelter solution is to be constructed or of being legally entitled to build on such land.