JIS News

Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang has said that his Ministry is moving swiftly and decisively to address the problem of informal settlements across the island.
Dr. Chang, who was speaking on (January 9) at a Strategic Planning Retreat for heads of departments and agencies of the Ministry at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, noted that this will be done through the upgrading as well as rationalization of tenure for the residents of these settlements, and relocation in some instances.
“One of the biggest problems that we face in the society is that of informal settlement. Because there is not enough housing for the low income worker, this has contributed to the incidence of informal settlements particularly along the north cost corridor and sections of the South-eastern belt,” the Minister explained.
According to Dr. Chang, these settlements emerged as a result of the creation of job opportunities in road and hotel construction, information technology, and other related areas in the service industry, such as craft vending and hairdressing.
“Unfortunately the provision of housing for these workers did not keep pace with the growth in other sectors,” he pointed out, adding that apart from being eyesores, “informal settlements are hotbeds for criminal activities.”
“We absolutely need to provide affordable housing for low income earners along this corridor or face the prospect of these informal settlements continuing to appear in our vital tourism areas or elsewhere in Jamaica,” the Minister told the gathering.
He further informed that the Ministry is in the process of identifying lands with the aim of building a number of housing solutions along this corridor, which will see the Ministry playing an active role in development in building shelter solutions, through the National Housing Development Corporation.
In the meantime, Minister Chang also stressed that an aggressive approach will be taken to the problem of urban blight and decay.
“Many sections of the Corporate Area, South St. Catherine, (and) Montego Bay, as well as a number of other urban centres are becoming very dilapidated and some of our people are living in very depressing conditions,” he pointed out.
This, he said, will be done through the upgrading of a number of communities in urban centres. “Our aim is more than the provision of mere housing solutions, we want to build communities as opposed to just shelter for our people,” the Minister added.
“In this regard we are not only taking into consideration the social and physical infrastructure of our targeted communities, including the provision of adequate water, sewage and roads, but also the environment. Our green spaces are important and we want to build environmentally friendly communities,” he said.
To this end, Dr. Chang explained that the Ministry will continue to bring private sector partners on board and form more joint venture partnerships, for the provision of adequate and affordable housing.

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