Gov’t Preparing National Housing Policy

The government of Jamaica is in the process of developing a National Housing Policy to provide all Jamaicans with access to affordable, safe and legal housing.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Housing, Transport, Water and Works, Dr. Alwin Hales, told JIS News the policy document was in its early stages of preparation and was expected to be completed within the 2007/08 financial period.
“We are now in the process of procuring the services of a consultant, who will play the coordinating role in putting the information together and developing a draft policy document within the next six months,” he informed.
Senior Director of Housing Policy in the Ministry, Doreen Prendegast, explained that the policy would provide the framework within which the government could attain its goal of providing affordable housing solutions for all Jamaicans by 2025.
“The broad objective of this proposed policy is to facilitate better utilization of resources in the public and private sectors, so as to satisfy the demand for housing in a coordinated and economical manner. We are also hoping that this policy will respond to the diverse needs of the disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the society. This is really a very comprehensive policy that will cater to the needs of all segments of the population,” she pointed out.
Some of the proposed areas that the policy will address include: improvements to the legislative framework for housing; increased joint venture partnerships; squatter regularization; providing security of tenure through divestment and titling programmes; increased collaboration between housing and approval agencies; and the reactivation of the secondary mortgage market.
The National Housing Policy is also expected to provide mechanisms to reduce the impact of natural disasters or other emergencies on housing settlements.
“In recent years, we have had so many powerful hurricanes and other natural disasters, so we are hoping that the policy will establish mechanisms to reduce the impact of natural disasters and other emergencies on human settlement. We are hoping that in terms of site selection, where you locate individuals, much more consideration will be given to placing people in much more suitable locations,” Mrs. Prendegast noted.
Meanwhile, Dr. Hales told JIS News that once the draft policy was completed, the document would be taken to Cabinet for approval and then the document would be published as a Green Paper. It will then be available on the Ministry’s website for public comments and consultations over a two to three-month period.
“After these consultations, there will be some revisions to the document. This revised document will go back to Cabinet again, seeking approval for it to become a Ministry Paper. Once Cabinet gives us its approval, the Minister will take it to Parliament as a Ministry Paper (White Paper) and the Ministry will put a team together to supervise the implementation of the policy,” the Permanent Secretary outlined.
This preparation of the policy will be funded by the Ministry, the National Housing Trust and the Housing Fund.

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