JIS News

Pat and Richard Forest, citizens of Golden Grove in St. Ann are the proud recipients of a new home, which was constructed at a cost of $500,000 through the Habitat for Humanity Christian housing programme.The two-bedroom house, with living room, kitchen, bathroom and a porch, is the 100th house to be built by the humanitarian group in Jamaica, through the assistance of the Canadian company, Royal Building Systems.
Meanwhile, sisters Monica and Pauline Scott from Broad Street in Claremont, a neighbouring community, are also to receive homes under the programme, having had their requests for housing approved.
Earlier this month, residents of the Golden Grove community as well as a number of peace corps volunteers turned out to complete the Forests’ home.It was a day of togetherness in which persons shared the work-load by carrying water, sand and gravel, mixing the concrete and laying blocks and steel for the construction, while others prepared yams, dumplings and rice-and-peas with brown stewed pork and fried chicken.
At the end of a workday, a grateful Mr. Forest thanked the volunteers and Habitat for turning out to complete the project. “I feel real good for the support and that people love us so much,” he said.
His wife, Pat, said she was “excited and happy” to finally have her own home. “With the help of just everybody, we can move into our own house,” she said, adding that, “the help from the community shows that there are more positives in Jamaica, than negatives”.Based in the United States with 60 branches around the world, Habitat for Humanity has been in Jamaica since 1992 and has been providing affordable houses for needy Jamaicans in the parishes of Portland, St. Ann and St. Mary.
Homeowners apply for assistance through a volunteers club, which is a partnership involving the church, businesses and community groups. Once approved for housing assistance, the homeowners are required to contribute hundreds of hours of sweat equity to the construction of their homes and then repay a long-term, no-interest mortgage. Mortgage cost are kept low by the use of volunteer labour and the generous donations of funds and building supplies.
Dr. Lisa Lawrence, National Director for Habitat for Humanity told JIS News that the homeowners were given between 10 to 12 years to repay the loan. “This pay back will provide another house for another person,” she pointed out. She informed that as part of the contract, the beneficiary should provide the land and labour, while Habitat provided the building material.
Dr. Lawrence said that the houses were “simple and decent”, made from prefabricated material, and could withstand storms, hurricanes and floods. She says that owners could add to the property after they had repaid at least 50 per cent of cost of construction.
Alicia Dobson, Member of the Resource Development Committee for Habitat for Humanity, said that the organization was supported through funding and appealed to Jamaicans to support Habitat in cash, land or kind so “we can continue to help develop the country”.
In his comments, Edwin Coleman, Habitat’s Project Officer for Portland, St. Mary and St. Ann, informed that as part of his role, he visited the projects and also urged communities to volunteer their efforts. Noting that he was pleased about the projects so far, Mr. Coleman said, “they are all community-based projects, and that is the way to go for development in this country”.
Peace corps volunteer Joy Untalan, who is a mechanical engineer from the United States, described the project as “a very good outcome. and I am happy to help other countries, meet friendly people and give of my background”. Civil Engineer Brian Rippy, another peace corps worker, also said he was happy to give of his time and effort to contribute to the housing project.
Colleen Brown and Joseph Mullings, volunteers from the Claremont community said, “it was fun to see various projects being completed through community efforts”.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sachet Loois, Peace Corps Director, said the peace corps workers were pleased to have contributed to the effort to provide affordable housing for needy persons. “Their (peace corps) impact is felt when they enable their communities to meet their development needs,” he stated.

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