When Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, officially handed over ownership of a one bedroom house to 88 year-old amputee, Winston Wint, in Bogue District, St. Elizabeth, on July 17, neighbours could hardly contain their euphoria.
“He deserves everything he is getting now…a long time him suffering,” said an elderly woman who gave her name as Vonnette Brown.
“I have known Gold (Mr. Wint’s pet name) for a very long time…from his early days as a businessman. Now all that is gone and he has nobody to give him that round-the-clock attention. His living condition is horrible, and I am so happy all that is about to change,” she told JIS News.
A beaming Mr. Wint, for his part, said there were too may persons to thank that he was afraid to “start calling names.”
However, he reserved the biggest praise for the Prime Minister, saying that at this stage of his life, he never believed it was still possible for him to own a near $6 million home.
“To God be the glory. Most Hon. Prime Minister, I want to thank you. I also want to thank Member of Parliament, Evon Redman and Councillor Everton Fisher and their team for helping with the paperwork and for putting my name forward as someone in need of a house.
I am so thankful to everybody…God is truly great,” Mr. Wint said.
He said he is also grateful for the brand new wheelchair he received as part of the package, noting that this will enable him to move around better, “especially in my new home.”
Neighbour and friend, Richard Brown, said “there are still reasons to believe in miracles.”
“This is truly a blessing and I want to commend the Prime Minister and all those who made this possible,” he added.
“Gold has been a good camper who helped many people back in the days. A lot of persons you see living around here on lands were set up by Gold and that is why so many persons are happy to give him a lending hand in his time of need,” Mr. Brown told JIS News.
Mr. Wint, a former butcher with an amputated leg and blind in one eye, not only lives alone, but has fallen on hard times.
Before he got his new home, Mr. Wint lived in a one bedroom board house, with kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities on the outside.
In his address, the Prime Minister said the New Social Housing Programme (NSHP), which has been rolled out under the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, was specifically designed to provide housing for the poorest Jamaicans.
“Nobody can deny that Mr. Wint is a deserving beneficiary and I must applaud the selection panel for getting it right,” Mr. Holness said.
For his part, National Director of the NSHP, Danville Walker, said that each application is reviewed by the Programme’s five-member Board before approval, after which there is a formal procurement process before work begins.
Mr. Walker, however, noted that unlike Mr. Wint, land tenure has been a major hindrance to rolling out the works, adding that oftentimes there are other issues, such as unpaid taxes.
“There are a lot of people who need help, but one of the challenges is that many who live in these indigent conditions are not really the land owners. Also, it takes a while to sort out land tenure,” he added.
Mr. Wint’s unit has a bathroom, kitchen and a living area. It also has connections for potable water and electricity.