Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Morais Guy, says the Government is committed to the implementation of policies and projects that will further develop the housing sector and alleviate the current shortage of housing solutions in Jamaica.
He said that recent surveys have indicated that Jamaica is facing a deficit of approximately 450,000 housing solutions with the sector averaging fewer than 3,000 units per year.
Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank held on Tuesday (January 22) at the agency’s head office in Kingston, the Minister said that a programme, involving the construction of an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 units annually “is what is desirable and necessary” to bridge the current gap.
Already projects are in place to alleviate the shortage. The initiatives, launched last August, are targeted at low income groups.
“We have two programmes; the first is for the indigent and for those persons, who are living in substandard housing conditions and (this) is an initiative, which is funded by the PetroCaribe Development Fund, in partnership with Food for the Poor, to build 1, 200 (wooden) units per year over the next five years,” Dr. Guy said.
The entire island will benefit from the project, with approximately 20 units to be built in each constituency per year. Interested persons, who meet the criteria, can submit applications to Food for the Poor.
In addition, a number of concrete structures are to be built under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) for National Housing Trust (NHT) contributors, who are considered minimum wage earners.
The programme came out of a partnership with Food for the Poor and the NHT, and already, 67 houses have been built in Hampden, Trelawny. The Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) is managing the project.
“The NHT will be taking applications from its contributors, who are at that particular scale, and we hope that 600 of these houses will be constructed on an annual basis over the next five years,” the Minister informed.
Meanwhile, Minister Guy outlined that the Ministry, in recognition of its commitment to housing, has recently established a public/private partnership to provide more homes and solutions to Jamaicans, especially those that fall within the “lower-middle income” and “middle income” group of earners.
“The public private partnership will see the Ministry, and by the extension, the Government providing the land, in addition to utlising the Housing Act to expedite and facilitate the process, while the investor comes with his capital to build houses that would be sold on the open market,” Dr. Guy explained.
He said that, as a result of the established public/private partnership, the Ministry is seeking Cabinet’s approval for the implementation of another housing project that will lead to the construction of an estimated 1,300 units in Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine.