- Minister with responsibility for Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy says improving the living conditions of citizens, particularly in urban areas, remains a priority of the administration.
- Fifty per cent of Jamaica’s population live in urban centres, which are affected by infrastructural and other development challenges.
- The Minister argued that housing is a basic commodity that should be provided to all citizens, adding that this is why the Government is continuing the expansion of housing provisions.
Minister with responsibility for Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy says improving the living conditions of citizens, particularly in urban areas, remains a priority of the administration.
He notes that over 50 per cent of Jamaica’s population live in urban centres, which are affected by infrastructural and other development challenges. This, he says poses a major concern that needs serious intervention.
“We are now faced with a steadily growing population, particularly in our urban areas, which requires not just educational and entertainment facilities…(but also) places to live. It is not feasible to merely add more police stations, churches, and basic schools to our urban communities when the residents have poor sanitary conveniences and live in dilapidated and unsafe structures,” he said.
Dr. Guy was speaking at a Public Consultation on Jamaica’s Draft National Report for the third United Nations (UN) Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat III) at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Friday (May 16).
The Minister argued that housing is a basic commodity that should be provided to all citizens, adding that this is why the Government is continuing the expansion of housing provisions for Jamaicans. He noted that 6,000 housing solutions are to be developed this year.
“We want to approach development in a wholesome manner as we espouse the view that every Jamaican citizen is entitled to decent shelter, wherever they live,” he said.
The Minister noted that despite work to provide new housing solutions, there is still a shortfall, particularly in urban areas.
He advised that the Government has been working to address this through partnerships with entities such as the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), the National Housing Trust (NHT), the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ), and Food for the Poor (FFP), as well as the private sector and international partners.
Dr. Guy informed that the deficit is also being addressed through several undertakings. These include: the Housing Public/Private Partnership Policy; Draft National Housing Policy and Implementation Plan; First Step Housing Programme; Government’s collaboration with/FFP/under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP); the NHT’s Inner-City Housing Programme; the Sugar Workers Housing Programme; the revamped titling programme; and the amendment to the Mortgage Insurance Act.
“All this is being taken into consideration as the Government outlines efforts, not just to facilitate aggregate development, but to also foster development in a sustainable manner,” he stated.
The consultation was the final of three islandwide fora on the national report prepared by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Department of Government.
The report considers implementation of the second UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) agenda, held in Istanbul, Turkey, in June 1996. It also examines new challenges, emerging trends, and a prospective vision for sustainable human settlements and urban development, as well as cross-cutting issues, in a balanced way.
The UN Conference on Human Settlements was first convened in Vancouver, Canada in 1976, and has been held once every 20 years since then.
Popularly called the ‘City Summit’, the Habitat Conference brings together high level representatives of national and local governments, as well as private sector, non- governmental organisations (NGOs), research and training institutions, and the media.
Habitat III provides a platform to discuss and chart new pathways in response to the challenges of urbanisation and the opportunities it offers for the implementation of sustainable development goals.