JIS News

Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, signed a $21.6 million contract, yesterday (June 17), with the University of Technology (UTech), for the preparation of a National Housing Policy and Implementation Plan, at the Ministry’s headquarters in Kingston.
The Policy and Implementation Plan, which will be formulated jointly by the University of the West Indies (UWI) and UTech, will facilitate the Government’s vision of access to adequate, legal and affordable housing for all Jamaicans.
In addition, it will give direction to the housing sector by addressing issues pertaining to housing supply and demand, affordability, financing, investment, squatting, as well as streamline the operations of existing housing agencies involved in the development process.
Dr. Chang said that the Government was pleased to have brought together “our two leading universities,” and explained that the UWI would provide the policy skills required through its Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) and that UTech would, through the Faculty of the Built Environment, provide practical hands-on skills in terms of housing, technology, and current activities in the housing sector, “which when combined with the policy, could really give us the kind of skill-sets we require to come up with what I think is a good, strong housing policy for Jamaica.”
Work on the project will start immediately and will be undertaken over a one year period, ending mid-June 2009. During this time, extensive regional, sectoral, and professional consultations will be done to ensure the input of a wide cross-section of Jamaicans to the final input.
Both universities will act as consultants and will, among other things, conduct a situational analysis of the housing sector, which will inform and lead the compilation of a concept paper on housing in Jamaica; identify key issues, policy directives and actions that relate to and impact on housing and settlement development in Jamaica and which must be considered in the formulation of the policy and housing plan; and facilitate all consultation sessions.
The Minister noted that with 15 to 35 per cent of the population residing in squatter settlements and the fact that many urban areas have been suffering from deep-seated decay – poor infrastructure (and) social dysfunction – “there has to be an organized direction to provide housing solutions in these areas.”
“I am very confident that out of this will come the kind of policy that could lay the foundation for adequate housing development in Jamaica, and for this I am pleased and we hope by next year, when we come back, we will be announcing and presenting the housing policy to the country and to the Government of Jamaica,” Dr. Chang said.
In his comments, Professor Errol Morrison, President of UTech, said he was pleased that both universities have been “identified to assist in this and we want to give our commitment to deliver in a timely way, the projections that are in this contract.”
“We want to put it on the table that where you have problems (the Ministry), where you have challenges, we want to be one of the first ports of call to see if we can assist .we look forward to more of these collaborations,” he added.
Professor Neville Duncan of SALISES, said he and his partners at UTech are looking forward to producing an excellent report. “So far, we have a wonderful rapport. The teams have met and I’m sure we will produce a very important and critical report, and I do congratulate the Ministry for conceptualizing this and bringing it to fruition,” he said.
Stakeholders who have provided funding include, the National Environment and Planning Agency, National Housing Trust, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Jamaica Mortgage Bank, National Housing Development Corporation, and other housing agencies.

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