Dr. Chang Cites need for Affordable Housing Framework


Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, says there is a need to establish a legislative and financial framework for the provision of affordable housing, especially for low income earners.
He added that the framework would also serve to prevent the spread of informal settlements, while regularizing existing ones where possible.
Dr. Chang was addressing the Jamaica Mortgage Bank’s (JMB) Housing Development Seminar on the theme: “New Issues in Planning and Maintaining Housing Development”. The seminar was held at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston, on Thursday (March 18).
Dr. Chang underscored that Jamaica’s housing and real estate sector had to be restructured within an enabling framework for development.
“Proper planning and development, in order to house your working population, is a critical part of public policy. The process has been much slower than we would like, but I think it has reached a point where it is worthwhile taking a look at where we are, what we have done,” he said.
He noted challenges which developers have expressed in “keeping up” with demand for affordable housing solutions, the cost of which, he contends, has been “pushed” out of the marketplace due to inflation.
He said that legislation has been enacted and are being pursued to address the situation, including the amendments to the Registration of Strata Titles Act, passed in Parliament on Tuesday (March 16). In addition, he said that Parliament was in the final stages of introducing a national building code. However, he said that the Building Act, which Prime Minister Bruce Golding will announce, will need more time.
Steps are being taken by the government, to ensure that the Chief Parliamentary Counsel will have the resources to bring on stream the legislative changes required to create the atmosphere and framework for efficient and effective development, he said
Much work was being done at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), as well, to ensure that the process of development approvals would become smoother and more effective.
“We are taking aggressive steps to put in place the kind of institutional framework, in collaboration with the private sector, that will ensure developers will have an efficient and friendly approach because, sometimes, the problem that we face is that, in doing quality housing developments, some of the demands, some developers find burdensome,” the Minister noted.
Dr. Chang cautioned, however, about the need for an “effective financial structure”, facilitating access by developers to financing to undertake developments, as well as mortgages that people can afford which has become a critical component in the whole housing development market and a contributor to squatting.
He said that the average Jamaican worker earning under $20,000 a week, cannot not find an affordable house to buy.
“It’s not peculiar to Jamaica. (but) it has been aggravated by inflation. If the lower income groups are not finding adequate housing, it’s going to impact the character of your community,” Dr. Chang warned.

JIS Social