KINGSTON — Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says Government is reviewing all public lands, with a view to collaborating with private developers to provide more affordable housing solutions.
"We still have enough lands out there to provide housing…we have to acquire (lands) in the Corporate Area, and we are looking at that extensively, as well,” he said.
He added that, in acquiring lands, particularly in urban areas, the Ministry would have to use its authority under the Housing Act.
The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Jamaica Mortgage Bank's (JMB) Secondary Mortgage Market (SMM) facility, on April 13, at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston.
Dr. Chang also said that in seeking to incorporate the involvement of private developers, some procurement processes will have to be varied.
“We have to find ways of increasing the rate of delivery of houses,” he said, noting that transparency will always be maintained, in instances where routes that are “not traditionally long and tedious” are taken, in order to keep the public informed.
The Housing Minister said some joint ventures in the past had failed “miserably,” and that while the partnership with the private sector is not a panacea, the National Housing Development Corporation had been re-organised to form the Housing Agency of Jamaica, to ensure efficiency and accountability.
“We had to look at new means of joint venture facilitation, which ensures that we get the houses we want…we are beginning to see active interest. Not only do we do contracts through the Housing Agency, but we can invite private developers who have the resources, to build on our land, at our specifications, and then provide housing that will be affordable to both the secondary mortgage providers – like the credit union – or to the Housing Trust market,” he explained.
Dr. Chang invited other mortgage institutions to partner with the JMB to bring the benefit of reduced interest rates to everyone. He added that JMB’s Secondary Mortgage Market facility signals some of the benefits that the government has been able to derive from its efforts.
“The development of a robust secondary mortgage market will also attract funds to the housing sector…it means that some of that money that has been released by the Jamaica Debt Exchange can go into housing…and hopefully begin to get the kind of activity that we would like Jamaican capital to be involved in,” he told the gathering.
The SMM is a mechanism that provides liquidity to mortgage originators by allowing the purchase of existing mortgages, thereby providing new funds to these originators for the granting of additional mortgages.
The loan agreement will benefit members of credit unions and other financial entities, allowing them to access more competitive mortgage rates.
By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter