The Full Story
A feeling of joy permeated the atmosphere in two Portland communities on Friday, September 8, as two deserving families, who were significantly dislocated after their houses were ravaged by fire, received the keys to their brand-new homes.
Leroy Grant of Francis Avenue in Buff Bay and Calbert Jones of Panton District in Mount Pleasant, both in Portland Western, are the latest beneficiaries of the Government’s New Social Housing Programme (NSHP).
Mr. Grant, a mason and father of six, lost his house and work tools to a fire four years ago.
Five of his children, all females, are currently attending schools at different levels.
The eldest attends university, two are in high school, one attends primary school, and one is in basic school, while the sixth daughter is an infant.
The tragic fire proved a great economic burden for Mr. Grant and his family, as he was unable to rebuild his home or earn a decent income.
Amidst light afternoon showers and the ecstatic cheers of residents on Friday, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, presented the man community members call “Country” with a $6.5-million three-bedroom unit.
The handover could not have come at a better time, as it was the birthday of his partner and mother of his children, Latoya Bryan.
“We were living down at her father and let me tell you, it was so rough,” Mr. Grant said, while adding that, “I feel so good and so excited because the house [has come on her birthday]”.
Calbert Jones, a farmer and father of three, who also received a three-bedroom unit, was similarly overjoyed.
The fire that destroyed his home and claimed the life of the mother of his children, occurred 19 years ago.
“Nobody knows where the fire came from. But the house caught fire and my baby mother got burned 40 per cent and died five days after,” Mr. Jones recounted.
He was forced to occupy a bedroom with his children in his father’s house, which is also home to his sister and her children.
Mr. Jones said he was thrilled to receive his new home, which was built at a cost of $8.1 million, and expressed gratitude to all involved in the process, adding: “I ask God to continue [to] bless us so that more houses can be distributed.”
Speaking during the handover ceremony, Prime Minister Holness reiterated that the NSHP was designed to improve the living conditions of vulnerable Jamaicans.
“In Calbert’s case, he’s been waiting for a house for 19 years. [His wish] has finally come true through the HOPE programme. The HOPE (Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment) programme is only two and a half years old… so we are fulfilling backlogs of applications,” he pointed out.
As at September 8, a total of 157 housing units or 375 rooms have been completed under the NSHP, a component of the HOPE pogramme, benefiting more than 589 individuals across 50 constituencies.
The programme was initiated in 2018 by the Prime Minister and is overseen by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.