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JIS News

As the re-branded Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ), moves to increase the housing stock in Jamaica, Managing Director, Joseph Shoucair, said he fully supported the theme for this year’s Habitat Day – ‘Harmonious Cities’.
“We believe the theme was very relevant, given the conflicting pressures on urban centres and cities, as more and more people move to these areas for various reasons. The resulting challenges of balancing the needs of various groups, particularly the urban poor, in such matters as shelter, employment, security, and sanitation, while trying to achieve environmentally friendly urban growth and development, is the objective of harmonious cities,” Mr. Shoucair said.
Habitat Day, which was observed on Monday (October 6), adopted the example of Luanda, the capital of Angola, which is recovering from devastation after decades of civil war.
“The HAJ has been mandated to facilitate the provision of affordable shelter solutions. Within this broad spectrum of solutions, are projects in our portfolio classified as urban renewal,” Mr. Shoucair informed JIS News, in an interview today (October 13).
He pointed out that some projects might not fall within the conventional ambit of urban renewal/regeneration projects. These, he said, include large projects, such as Flanker and Norwood in Montego Bay St. James, and St. Benedicts, Melbrook and Harbour Heights in Kingston.
“We are currently undertaking significant intervention work in Flanker and plans are advanced to do similar work in Norwood. The focus is to improve the physical infrastructure and thereby facilitate the reduction in crime and violence,” he added.
He said that the emphasis in the past had been to increase the housing stock and not so much to incorporate environmentally friendly technology and features.
“Generally, there is a significant backlog in the provision of new shelter solutions, particularly at the low and middle income end of the market. In addition, we also have the problem of unplanned developments, some occupying land not suitable for habitation, such as flood prone areas, environmentally sensitive areas, such as watersheds, and marginal lands susceptible to natural hazards,” he added.
The HAJ is the former National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC).