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Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett
Photo: Mark Bell

Story Highlights

  • The Government’s focus on providing affordable housing to Jamaicans will be among the main topics for discussion at the MoBay Expo 2020, which is slated for March 6 to 8 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.
  • The discussions will be held under the theme ‘Urgent Need for Affordable Housing in Western Jamaica’ and will be led by Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce Director and Chairperson for the Affordable Housing section at the Expo, Angella Whitter.
  • Speaking with JIS News, Ms. Whitter said while there have been increased levels of growth in Montego Bay, this has also come with a rise in number of informal settlements.

The Government’s focus on providing affordable housing to Jamaicans will be among the main topics for discussion at the MoBay Expo 2020, which is slated for March 6 to 8 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.

The discussions will be held under the theme ‘Urgent Need for Affordable Housing in Western Jamaica’ and will be led by Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce Director and Chairperson for the Affordable Housing section at the Expo, Angella Whitter.

Speaking with JIS News, Ms. Whitter said while there have been increased levels of growth in Montego Bay, this has also come with a rise in number of informal settlements.

“Even developments that were built within a structured framework have been forced into informal settlements. One of the basic needs of every human being is to have a place to rest their head at nights. Every parent’s role is to ensure that they provide a good base to raise their family,” Ms. Whitter stated.

She noted that the expo will also continue the discussion on affordable housing for low-income tourism workers and their families.

Ms. Whitter pointed out that the hotel sector, which remains a major driving force behind both the rental and housing markets, is driving the housing market right now.

“The same persons who are contributors to the National Housing Trust (NHT) are the ones mostly renting. So there is no doubt that there is a great need to build more houses in Montego Bay.

The increase in hotel rooms and jobs in the global services sector (GSS) has also created a high demand for housing for employees and family,” she stated.

“We know for a fact that all squatter settlements are created when we have a boom in industries like now. So we need to do everything possible to prevent having to deal with squatting or informal settlements,” she added.

Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said urgent discussions surrounding the affordability of housing for workers, especially those attached to the hotel industry, have been ongoing for some time.

“The housing conditions of hotel workers is of particular concern to me. In fact, a recent survey indicated that over 88 per cent of the workers in the sector cannot even access NHT housing solutions,” Mr. Bartlett noted.

“Subsequently, we have searched long and hard for a formula that can provide affordable housing for our workers, and we are proud of the policy shift that the Prime Minister has announced with regards to the NHT menu of benefits, which will see an increase in loan limit, reduced interest rates on NHT mortgages, intergenerational mortgages, and an increase in construction loan limit for NHT lots,” he added.

Mr. Bartlett said the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), along with the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ), has earmarked $1 billion for upgrading housing solutions for tourism workers.

“Our tourism workers deserve to live in clean, orderly, structured and safe communities with appropriate infrastructure. We will go beyond the call of duty to make this a norm across the island,” he added.

The Housing Agency of Jamaica, the National Housing Trust, as well as the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) are major sponsors of the expo.

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