JIS News

You know you are special as a new community, when not only your present Prime Minister, but also your former Prime Minister, The Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, come to celebrate with you.
I want to begin by acknowledging Mr. Patterson in a very special way.
It was his passion and commitment to making sure that more and more Jamaicans were able to own land and their own homes which is at the heart of this project, and our presence here this afternoon.
His administration is particularly noted for its strong emphasis on land and home ownership programmes.
As someone in public life, I have been asked many, many times to break ground or cut a ribbon to open a new building.
It is always a very satisfying experience to take part in such occasions. But I can tell you, nothing brings me greater joy than to witness the handing over of keys to brand new home owners.
Only those who know what it is to dream what seemed like “the impossible dream” of owning a home, can really understand.
Only those who after having spent sleepless nights wishing, hoping, praying and trying to find a way, can truly understand what it feels like to see that dream come true.
There is a sense of accomplishment, a feeling of pride, thanksgiving and relief, knowing that you can ‘come in from the cold’, and never have to pay rent, or “cotch” with anyone again.
My fellow Jamaicans, it feels very good to be here with you this afternoon.
For you, this is a time of celebration; a proud and happy moment.
I am very aware of the struggle and the sacrifices that you have made in order to get to this point in your lives.
Moments like these remind me of why I was drawn to enter the world of politics and government in the first place.
I wanted then, as I do now, to play a part in helping the majority of Jamaicans experience more moments like these.
Moments when they can feel that they are getting somewhere with their lives; moments when they can feel proud of their achievements.
You know those special moments I am talking about – having a son or daughter graduate with honours from school or university; getting your own certificate or diploma after working in the days and studying at nights.
There are special moments that open the door to productive opportunities;
Starting your own business; launching a new product; receiving a land title, or indeed, the keys to your own home.
These are all special moments that we cherish in our lives.
These moments, ladies and gentlemen, are the milestones of improving the quality of life.
For me, improving the quality of life for the Jamaican people must be at the heart of every policy or programme pursued by the government.
It must be the driving force behind the work of every government ministry, department, agency or institution.
And so today, as I stand here, I am very proud of the institution that has been working to improve quality of life in the area of housing, the National Housing Trust (NHT).
Ever since emancipation, there has been a desperate need for housing in Jamaica.
In the 1970s, housing came in for special attention from government then.
There was the need to step up the pace, which lead to the setting up of the NHT, in 1976 — thirty years ago.
Through the contributions of workers and employers, it dramatically expanded the capacity of government to provide housing solutions for Jamaicans.
At the same time, the establishment of the NHT removed partisan politics by introducing a fair and equitable system under which contributors could receive a housing benefit.
Over the years, the NHT has helped thousands and thousands of Jamaicans to own, maintain and upgrade their homes.
But there is still a long way to go to satisfy the housing needs of the nation.
This is why the work being done under the NHT’s inner city housing project as part of the government’s urban renewal programme is so important.
It is addressing inner city housing needs in a very big way, bringing light and hope to many.
When Bob Marley sang “cold ground was my bed last night and rock stone was my pillow”, he was expounding an inner city reality.
When the Mighty Diamonds sang “I need a roof over my head”, they were also singing inner city blues.
For people at all levels of the society, buying a home is the biggest investment they will ever make.
It is a steep investment.
And truth be told, many Jamaicans could not afford to buy a home, without major assistance.
Through the inner city housing project, government is subsidizing your opportunity to own a home.
The programme is making available, quality housing at affordable prices.
As long as I remain in a position to, this programme will continue to be a priority government programme.
And, if we are to really get rid of the squalor and unacceptable living conditions in which our people live, then the programme will have to move at a galloping pace.
The need is simply too great and there is still a lot of catching-up to do.
Homeowners, I am asking you to play your part in keeping the housing train running on track.
I know that most of you do not need to be reminded, but it is very important to make your mortgage payments on time. I am encouraging you to make your homes, your castles and make your community, your kingdom here on earth.
This is your opportunity to build a model community.
The inner city housing project has put a great deal of emphasis on training in community living, leadership, conflict resolution and other areas.
This will provide you with the knowledge and skills for better community living.
Indeed, our hope for Jamaica lies in building strong, caring communities.
In sharing the responsibility for creating and maintaining an environment that supports the well-being and development of every single resident.
The key idea is that of taking responsibility.
There are personal responsibilities; family responsibilities and community responsibilities.
Taking responsibility means keeping the public and common areas neat, clean and beautiful.
It means ensuring that, seen from outside, your own space meets the same standards.
It means sharing responsibility for the security of the community, working in partnership with the police.
It means sharing the responsibility for all the children of the community, encouraging them to be the best that they can be.
Every community member has a duty to be vigilant about the safety and protection of every child.
Taking responsibility means looking out for the senior citizens, making sure that their special needs are met.
It means involving everyone in cultural and sporting activities, to help strengthen the bonds of the community.
To be able to accomplish these things, means that you must be in contact with each other, and be on good terms with your neighbours.
It is not about being nosy and interfering, because privacy must always be respected.
It is about living in harmony and in a neighbourly manner.
Be your brother’s keeper and your sister’s keeper.
Build a strong community organization and keep it alive by your participation.
And so today, as you receive the keys to your new home and embark upon a new community life together, I extend hearty congratulations to all new home owners.
You are not only receiving the keys to a building, but also keys to a higher quality experience of living.
I pray that you make a good home here.
To borrow from a statement once made by the great African American Pastor, Howard Thurman:
“You have to be at home somewhere before you can feel at home anywhere.”
God bless your homes! God bless your community, and God bless Jamaica land, we all so dearly love.
I thank you