JIS News

About 100 houses are to be built in communities in Central and West Kingston under the pilot project to be undertaken by the government to address the problem of inadequate housing in inner-city communities.
“We will be selecting sections of Central Kingston and West Kingston and that should be able to cover 80 to 100 (houses),” said Prime Minster, Hon. Bruce Golding in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (November 23).
“We want to study the social impact of it, the extent to which the people take ownership of it and are prepared to contribute to its completion,” he added.
Mr. Golding was contributing to the debate on amendments to the Urban Renewal (Tax Relief) Act, which was passed.
The Prime Minister first announced the pilot project, which will be funded by the National Housing Trust (NHT) at a cost of $150 million, at the handing over of housing units at Union Estate in Twickenham Park, St. Catherine last week.
At the time, he said that the government was undertaking a new approach to providing housing for the urban poor as the Innercity Housing Project had become unsustainable.
Noting that the project had a delinquency rate of about 45 per cent, he said a different, less expensive approach was being pursued, which entails the building or expansion of houses in stages.
“We’re talking about solutions that, based on today’s costing, will be delivered at under $1 million, within the financial reach of inner-city residents. We’re going to have to find ways that inner-city residents can benefit from those solutions without maintaining a delinquency rate of 45 per cent because that will undermine any institution,” Mr. Golding said.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said the government is also pursuing measures to encourage private developers to provide more housing solutions for middle and lower income families.
“We have reduced the interest rates on interim mortgages that are offered by the (National) Housing Trust to developers. We have reduced the interest rate from eight per cent to three per cent and have said to them, get involved in housing,” he stated.
The Act to Amend the Urban Renewal (Tax Relief) Act will allow for exemption from stamp duty and transfer tax on the acquisition of land for use by approved developers. It will also allow for an increase from 25 per cent to 33 1/3 per cent, on tax credit of capital expenditure, in respect of improvement works carried out in the special development area.
Provision is also made, with some exemptions, to ensure that entities benefiting from income tax relief under the Act will be disentitled from claiming similar benefits under other Acts.

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