KINGSTON — Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, has signed a contract worth $802.5 million, for the development of 159 serviced lots and 99 two bedroom units in Boscobel, St. Mary.
The 34.4-hectare site is located five kilometres from Oracabessa and 13 kilometres from the parish capital, Port Maria.
Speaking at the signing, which took place today, at the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ), Caledonia Road, in Kingston, Dr. Chang said it is expected that the project will be done within budget, and within the stipulated 21-month period.
He pointed out that the serviced lots, which will be sold for $2 million each or less, and the two-bedroom semi-detached units, which will go for $7.5 million, are “still very much within the target market."
“Two million dollars still sound like a big figure for workers, but one must bear in mind that if you’re a National Housing Trust (NHT) contributor, and we are targeting that market, $2 million works out at less than $12,000 per month, and therefore, a working couple in the hotel sector who may be taking home $7,000 per week, can afford that mortgage,” the Minister argued.
Dr. Chang said that as the Government steps up the drive to provide affordable housing, the target remains 15,000 solutions per year, with the collaboration of the NHT, the HAJ, and the Ministry, with co-operation from the private sector.
“We certainly are better off than we were last year….bringing in the private sector and the NHT, we should be approaching 10,000, and we expect that by the next financial year, we should be very much on target,” he said.
Dr. Chang pointed out that the government’s plan to utilise public lands, will advance the effort.
The Minister explained that building more shelter solutions will assist to stop the spread of informal settlements.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for West St. Mary, and State Minister for Local Government Reform, Hon. Robert Montague, welcomed the project and the opportunity it presents for the people of St. Mary.
Mr. Montague pointed out with the expansion in the tourism industry, particularly in the high end of the market; there is the need for workers to be closer to the product, and for more housing solutions in the area.
“The development of this greenfield project will go a far way in satisfying the demand for housing solutions,” he said.
The State Minister described the HAJ being able to hold the cost of the serviced lots under $2 million as “excellent delivery in the marketplace,” as the cost of land is very expensive.
By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter