Feature
Michelle Cookhorn (second left) breaks down in tears at the recent ceremony to break ground for her new home at Grant Hill in Lawrence Tavern, St. Andrew, which is being built by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development. Portfolio Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie (right); Member of Parliament for West Rural St. Andrew, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn (second right) and Councillor, Lawrence Tavern Division, John Myers, share in the emotional moment.
Photo: Rudranath Fraser

Tears filled the eyes of 46-year-old Michelle Cookhorn as she witnessed the recent breaking of ground for the construction of her first home.

Ms. Cookhorn, who is a single mother of five children, all in their 20s, is a beneficiary under the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development’s Municipal Social Assistance Programme (MSAP).

The two-bedroom house is being built on family lands at Grant Hill in Lawrence Tavern, St. Andrew, at a cost of $2.5 million, including the construction of a retaining wall.

It will replace a dilapidated structure on the property in which Ms. Cookhorn now resides.

The new dwelling will be fully furnished with bed, refrigerator, stove, dining table and other household items, and a water tank will be provided for rainwater harvesting.

Speaking to JIS News, Ms. Cookhorn said that the ground breaking is “a dream come true”, as she is finally getting a home of her own.

Michelle Cookhorn (left) watches as Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie (third right), and other officials, break ground for the construction of her new home at Grant Hill in Lawrence Tavern, St. Andrew, recently. Others participating in the ground breaking (from second left) are Councillor, Mavis Bank Division, Alvin Francis; Member of Parliament for West Rural St. Andrew, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn; Mayor of Kingston, Senator, Councillor Delroy Williams; and Councillor, Lawrence Tavern Division, John Myers.

 

She describes her standard of living prior to the intervention as being “bad”, noting that she has been moving from place to place over the last 20 years in search of safe shelter for herself and her children.

“I was living in a family house. At times, things (the relationship) would break down so I had to leave, and I lived with someone, and now I have come back home,” she noted.

She said she is elated that the Government has stepped in to help.

Michelle Cookhorn (left) expresses gratitude for the new house being built by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development at the ground-breaking ceremony held recently at Grant Hill in Lawrence Tavern, St. Andrew.

 

“I feel very happy to be selected for this indigent house. I will take care of it. I prayed hard for this house and now victory is mine,” Ms. Cookhorn said.

Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, who was joined by Mayor of Kingston, Senator Councillor Delroy Williams; and Member of Parliament, West Rural St. Andrew, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, at the ground breaking, said that Ms. Cookhorn’s home will be completed in “a matter of months”.

He noted that 100 housing solutions are being provided for indigent Jamaicans across the island.

“These are people who have found themselves in really hard positions,” Minister McKenzie said, noting that Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has committed to “doing as much as we can to help to ease the sufferings of persons who fall within the category of poor and destitute”.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie exchanges an elbow bump with Michelle Cookhorn (left), at the recent ground-breaking ceremony for her new home at Grant Hill in Lawrence Tavern, St. Andrew. Looking on is Member of Parliament for West Rural St. Andrew, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn.

 

Last week, Minister McKenzie handed over a house in Portmore, St. Catherine, to needy youth Raheem Powell and before that a presentation was made to a former member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and his wife, who have fallen on hard times. Meanwhile, Mayor Williams commended the Ministry on the initiative to provide housing for needy Jamaicans across the island.

The Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) is partnering with the Ministry on the construction of the house for Ms. Cookhorn.

“They (The Ministry) have a very elaborate programme of assisting with housing… and with the expertise of the municipality, we will come on board and ensure that the structure goes up according to the processes and procedure under the law,” the Mayor said.

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