Effective July 1, 2017, some new National Housing Trust (NHT) loan applicants began benefitting from improvements in Home Grants and financing for NHT scheme solutions. There are also special benefits for persons with disabilities. These include reduced interest rates and a special grant to assist with retrofitting their houses. The policy changes were announced by Prime Minister the Most. Hon. Andrew Holness during his 2017/2018 budget presentation in March and are aimed at making home ownership even more affordable for contributors.
Leading the new policy changes is the NHT’s offer of 100% mortgage financing for all housing units it produces. This means that the Trust will lend qualified contributors the full amount required to buy NHT units, providing that they can afford the monthly loan payments.
Currently, NHT contributors with a disability, who are certified by the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, repay their loans at a rate of interest of two-percentage points below that of the income group in which they fall. As of July 1, individuals earning up to $30,000 weekly will borrow at a rate of 0%. The NHT will also provide a grant of $150,000 to NHT mortgagors with disabilities or to mortgagors who reside with and care for a family member who is disabled, to retrofit or upgrade the dwellings to make them more suited for their needs.
Meanwhile, NHT’s lowest earning contributors can now access increased funding following improvements made to the Home Grant programme. Contributors earning below $12,000 weekly and who have been contributing for over seven years, will be able to access up to $2.5 million for an NHT Home Grant. By combining their mortgage loan and the Home Grant amount, these contributors should be able to purchase a unity equivalent in value to an NHT studio. Previously, contributors could benefit from a maximum Home Grant of $1.5 million.
Earlier this year, the NHT implemented policies which saw an increase in the loan limit for Home Improvement Loans to $2.5 million up from $1.5 million. With this new policy, two qualified NHT contributors can co-apply and access up to $5 million for home improvements. In addition, the loan limit for a House Lot loan was increased to $2.5 million from the previous limit of $2 million.
The Trust’s housing programme for the 2017/2018 Financial Year will see the NHT commence construction of almost 6,000 housing solutions across Jamaica. Ground has been broken for approximately 3,000 solutions to date. For the 2017/2018 financial year, the NHT plans to write approximately 8,500 new loans at a value of $17.5 billion.