Feature
Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie (second left), cuts the ribbon to officially hand over a self-contained studio unit to 75-year-old Gladstone Taylor (third left) in Williamsfield, Lime Hall, St. Ann. Sharing in the moment are (from left): Councillor for the Lime Hall Division, Genevor Gordon-Bailey; Member of Parliament for North East St. Ann and Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson; Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay and Chairman of the St. Ann Municipal Corporation, Councillor Michael Belnavis, and Councillor for the Bensonton Division, Lydia Richards.
Photo: Nickieta Sterling

Story Highlights

  • Beneficiaries of the Government’s Indigent Housing Programme, Patsey Wheatley and her daughter, Cheryl Brooks, are elated with their new home.
  • “We appreciate it a lot,” the residents of Palmers Cross, in Clarendon, tells JIS News in an interview.
  • Through the assistance of the Government, the Clarendonians now live in a comfortable concrete studio unit, which consists of a bedroom, bathroom and a kitchen.

Beneficiaries of the Government’s Indigent Housing Programme, Patsey Wheatley and her daughter, Cheryl Brooks, are elated with their new home.

“We appreciate it a lot,” the residents of Palmers Cross, in Clarendon, tells JIS News in an interview.

Through the assistance of the Government, the Clarendonians now live in a comfortable concrete studio unit, which consists of a bedroom, bathroom and a kitchen.

Ms. Brooks, who is the caregiver for her 76-year-old mother, says the new and improved dwelling has significantly improved their standard of living and is much better than their previous abode.

“It was a board house and it was in a very bad condition, so we are so grateful for our new home. It is a very great thing and a very good feeling for me and my mom and family,” she tells JIS News.

Ms. Brooks lauds the Government, especially the Poor Relief Department and local government representative for Clarendon South Eastern (Palmers Cross), Ms. Carlene Benjamin, for initiating the process that has resulted in them getting the new home.

“I want to say thanks to the Poor Relief Department and they are doing a good job,” she says.

The Poor Relief Department falls under the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, through which the assistance is provided.

Another recipient from St. John, in Clarendon, Earl Ferron, expresses appreciation for his new concrete studio unit. “Mi very, very happy, man,” he shares with JIS News.

He says his old home, made of board, though it withstood previous storms, had deteriorated badly.

“It did weak, man. When storm a come mi did definitely a fret; a three storm it pass through already, so it did shake up bad,” he adds.

Meanwhile, another beneficiary, Gladstone Taylor, who is the recipient of a house in Lime Hall, St. Ann, said he is very grateful for the unit.

“I have to give thanks and praises to the Ministry of Local Government. I could not afford a house like this, so I have to give thanks to them,” he tells JIS News.

Under the indigent housing programme, the Government continues to improve the living conditions of many Jamaicans, particularly those in dire need of assistance by providing them with housing solutions free of cost.

The programme provides modern concrete homes for indigent persons living outside the infirmary system.

In an interview with JIS News, Secretary, Board of Supervision, Treka Lewis, says the initiative has made a significant impact on the lives of many Jamaicans, pointing out that it aims to replace substandard housing with houses that are decent, safe and appropriate for persons to live in.

Secretary, Board of Supervision, Treka Lewis.

 

Ms. Lewis says the aim is to also prevent homelessness. “It improves the well-being of those who have received it and, of course, there is a relationship between housing and health, even housing and mental health, so the impact has been positive,” she says.

The Secretary points out that there is a great demand for housing, noting that this is reflected in the requests that are received by the Department. “We keep a log in each Poor Relief Department and a lot of the requests that come in are for housing,” she adds.

Ms. Lewis says the indigent housing programme has been around for a long time, but since 2017 it has been “reinvigorated” by Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie.

“From 2017 to now, six homes have been completed and an additional eight homes will be done over another six months. The beneficiaries have already been selected,” she says, adding that each unit costs $2.1 million.

Ms. Lewis tells JIS News that the new homes should be delivered before year end, as long as there are no unforeseen circumstances.

“The projection is for two persons or families to receive housing per parish. That would take us to a total number of 28 in the first phase, so that should be over a two-year period,” she adds.

Explaining the selection process, Ms. Lewis says persons are chosen following a needs-based investigation.

“There is a Poor Relief Department in each parish and that’s where the indigent housing is channelled through, so it is dependent on need. An investigation is carried out for persons who apply or persons who are already within the system and are in need of housing,” she points out.

Ms. Lewis says persons may also register or apply by visiting their parish office and speaking to the Inspector of Poor, following which an assessment is carried out.

“It is a great initiative and we are happy that some amount of focus has been replaced on the indigent housing programme. It can only be beneficial to those who are recipients and we hope, in going forward, funds will be made available to continue the programme,” she says.