JIS News

The Ministry of Water and Housing will embark on a programme to accelerate the delivery of housing solutions, particularly to lower income level persons, over the next three years, according to portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang.
Dr. Chang made the announcement during his contribution to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (July 1).
He said the programme, expected to commence this fiscal year, will be a collaboration between the Ministry, Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) and National Housing Trust (NHT).
Dr. Chang stated the housing agencies plan to commit $22 billion to the development of the solutions, of which some $11 billion are expected to be spent in 2009/2010. Some 8,000 solutions, comprising 5,600 serviced lots and 2,400 units, are being targeted for development and that the total number could reach over 10,000 units.
“The programme will target the lower socio-economic grouping. It is designed to offer a viable alternative to informal settlements, while providing jobs and stimulating economic activity in the construction sector,” he stated.
The first development will be at Luana, St. Elizabeth. It will be directly spearheaded by the HAJ and will involve some 800 houses.
Noting that that only nine months remain in the current fiscal year, Dr. Chang said that no previous attempt has ever been made to start so many housing units in such a short space of time.
“We have taken the necessary preliminary steps, we have had the co-operation of the agencies and we figure we can, in fact, start them,” he assured.
In addition to Luana, some of the other developments being undertaken by the HAJ include: Rhyne Park, St. James – 600 serviced lots and 300 houses; White Hall, Westmoreland – 800 serviced lots; Shooters Hill, St. Catherine – 450 serviced lots and 250 houses; Mt. Edgecombe, St. Ann – 575 serviced lots; Green Pond, St. James – 300 serviced lots and 150 houses; and Boscobel, St. Mary – 55 serviced lots and 235 houses.
The NHT will spearhead developments at: Longville in Clarendon – 150 serviced lots and 650 houses; Perth, Manchester – 400 serviced lots and 253 houses; and Hampden, Trelawny – 188 serviced lots and 100 houses.
Dr. Chang said that the Ministry has discussed with the NHT providing financing for individuals who acquire serviced lots, to help them build their own houses.
“While it was difficult at one stage for such individuals to acquire additional cash, what we have demonstrated is that, if a person acquires a lot for $600,000 and they are entitled to $1.5 million from the Trust, if they are loaned the other $900,000, whether in material or cash, they can build a house for themselves; while, if we built it would, maybe, end up costing $3 million,” he explained.
Dr. Chang was also optimistic that the Ministry and its agencies can execute the initial phase of the programme this year.
“The effort must succeed and it will succeed. We have the talent, the capacity and the will. It hasn’t been done before, but I am confident that we can (do it). We have an extremely capable and hard working team between the Ministry, the Housing Agency, and the National Housing Trust,” he said.

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