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Minister of Housing, Transport, Water and Works, Robert Pickersgill, has said that the government is developing a National Housing Policy, which will provide all Jamaicans with access to affordable, safe and legal housing solutions.
Mr. Pickersgill made the announcement as he addressed the opening of the Caribbean Associations of Housing Finance Institutions conference at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, in Montego Bay yesterday (May 29).
He noted that the policy, which is being spearhead by the Ministry, would provide for: improvements to the legislative framework for housing; increased joint venture partnerships; squatter regularization; the provision of tenure security through divestment and titling programmes; increased collaboration between housing and approval agencies; and the reactivation of the secondary mortgage market.
“We have also identified and are now in the process of considering some innovative policy decisions that can assist us in our quest. These include the identification of low interest funds to put in infrastructure at squatter regularization sites, and the development of a comprehensive policy to address squatting in an effort to ensure that we halt this pervasive problem,” Minister Pickersgill stated.
He noted that the feasibility of stimulating the private sector to address the needs of the rental market as well as the creation of a formal social housing programme, would also be examined.
According to the Housing Minister, a number of countries in the region were moving towards developing housing and shelter policies and strategies, to address the challenges in the provision of adequate housing.
He noted however that, “such strategies and policies will only be successful if they address key issues relating to housing finance and environmental management”.
Minister Pickersgill said that Jamaica, like many other developing countries, faced a number of challenges in providing housing, including “lack of a comprehensive land use policy, a lack of infrastructure to support housing, issues relating to the affordability of shelter and security of tenure and squatting”.
“Notwithstanding these challenges, as a government, we are committed to ensuring that by 2025, all our people will have access to affordable, safe and legal housing solutions”, the Housing Minister stated.
The Caribbean Association of Housing Finance Institutions has been in existence for 22 years, with a membership of 38 housing financial institutions from 14 Caribbean countries.
The conference is being held under the theme: ‘Challenges of the Housing Market in the 21st Century’.