Minister with responsibility for Housing, Hon. Morais Guy, said that every effort is being made to reduce the cost of housing units, particularly to low income earners.
"Various approaches are being considered including the utilisation of dry walls for internal partition of rooms, while maintaining solid exteriors to afford protection against natural hazards such as hurricanes," he said.
Dr. Guy was addressing a forum on March 14 at the St. Luke's Anglican Church Hall in Kingston, where he highlighted policy measures and strategies being pursued toimprove access to affordable and environmentally sustainable housing solutions for Jamaicans.
A key strategy, he said, is pursuing public/private partnerships, to increase the number of solutions being brought to the market and to bring down costs. He noted that countries, such as Colombia, have benefitted from such arrangement. "We, too, are ready to embrace this type of arrangement, particularly as it relates to the provisions of infrastructure and housing solutions," he stated.
In addition, Dr. Guy said, focus will be placed on incorporating new building technologies in housing developments that result in energy and other savings to householders in the long run.
"There must also be a radical change in our cultural attitude towards the use of alternative building forms, if our goal is to reduce the cost of solutions to beneficiaries. No longer can we see block and steel as the only sustainable form of construction material. We must explore the use of the various available systems in seeking options to address our needs," he stated.
Dr. Guy informed that steps are also being taken to separate the land titling process from infrastructure development so that beneficiaries can be empowered to use their titles to generate wealth.
He said the government recognises "the great leverage that having a registered title gives and how pertinent it is to enabling the economic development of a country".
"For too long, we have been hampered with titles sitting in vaults not being passed on to owners because of the absence of infrastructure in some communities. This anomaly must not be allowed to continue," he stated.
Dr. Guy said policies will be pursued that will lead to the gentrification of urban residential communities, pointing out that the net benefit “is the restoration of vibrancy to our urban centres and a revival of the economic, social and wealth of our towns and cities”.
The Minister was addressing representatives of development associations and provident societies from across the country, at the meeting convened by the Community Organizations for Management and Sustainable Development (COMAND), a non-government, community-based umbrella group representing more than 30 provident societies and other marginalised communities.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter