The Government has made good on its commitment to provide affordable housing solutions for Jamaicans, with thousands of persons receiving benefits through the National Housing Trust (NHT) over the last financial year.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, who has portfolio responsibility for the NHT, updated the nation during her 2013/14 Budget Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 30, on the status of several housing projects that were undertaken by the agency over the past year.
She informed that 918 solutions were completed at Longville Phase 3 in Clarendon; 258 serviced lots at Perth, Manchester; and 140 serviced lots at Creighton Hall, St. Thomas.
“We made a commitment for special consideration to be given to young professionals in the delivery of new scheme solutions. At Longville Phase 3, Perth Phase 1 and Creighton Hall, 61 solutions were reserved for allocation to young professionals, age 25 to 35 years. Promise made, promise kept,” she stated.
She announced that starting this year, the age qualification for this category of beneficiaries will be increased to 40 years.
The Prime Minister also stated that the Government has delivered on its commitment to provide more home grants to contributors in the lowest income earning categories, increasing the total from $336 million to $390 million.
Other commitments made and kept include the lowering of mortgage rate on loans by one per cent for workers in the hotel sector earning less than $10,000 per week and public sector workers. Some 6,760 public sector workers have benefitted from the reduced interest rate since last year, she noted.
Mrs. Simpson Miller told the House that first 74 of the First Step Homes being built at Hampden, Trelawny have been sold. The project is a partnership involving the NHT, Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, and Food for the Poor
She said the units were heavily demanded by hotel and sugar workers, and the closing costs were paid even before completion of construction.
“The price for each home is $2.7 million and the NHT is awarding a grant of $1.2 million to each contributor for home improvement. I personally broke ground for these projects. Promise made, promise kept,” the Prime Minister said.
She noted, too, that since last year,the NHT has introduced greater flexibility in qualification for a benefit.
She said the agency has continued the Mortgage Partner Policy, where a home owner with at least seven years of unclaimed refunds and with no intention of acquiring an NHT loan, can use these funds to assist another contributor to acquire a home.
The Prime Minister also informed that ground has been broken for the re-development of the JDF barracks, officers’ quarters and administrative facilities at Up Park Camp, fulfilling yet another promise from her Budget presentation last year.
By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter