JIS News

Persons in some inner-city communities in Kingston who hope to qualify for and obtain one of the housing units being provided under the Inner City Housing Project (ICHP) are currently being trained to take up residence and ensure the project’s sustainability.
Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank session, Director of the Project, Maurice Anderson said since the first units should be ready by February next year, critical to the success of the project, was the preparedness of the beneficiaries. “We want to train the people so that at the point of handing over the housing to them, they will not only be able to pay the mortgage, but they will also be able to live better. We don’t want the areas to go back into slums, so we are endeavouring to do the social intervention to try to prevent this,” stated Mr. Anderson.
To this end, the ICHP has designed and implemented a Social Development Programme comprising a number of skills training courses to help residents of the targeted communities improve their employability status and/or entrepreneurship capacity.
“This intervention includes a range of socio-economic training programmes, as well as what we call psychosocial development initiatives,” explained Social Development Manager of the ICHP, Dr. Imani Tafari-Ama.
“We recognise that not only do people need to have the economic means to live in the communities, but at the end of the day they also need to live together as a community, and when we talk about sustainable development, we need to have people managing their communities and working together to build the social capital that is inherently necessary for that component of sustainability to be realised,” she added.
A critical aspect of the preparation for the new homes, which include four-storey, multi-apartment complexes, is training in maintenance.
“We recognise that based on history, if you just put up a set of apartments, and put people in them, what happens is that sooner or later, the whole place is run down. So, what we are doing is putting a training programme in place that deals with property maintenance. We are trying to train property managers so that when we hand over the project at the end of the construction period, they will take over the maintenance of it,” Mr. Anderson informed.
Some of the courses covered under the economic skills training programmes, include entrepreneurial management, performing arts for community development, audio-visual training, food preparation, cosmetology, customer service and cashier training, carpentry, data entry, and masonry among others.
To date, the ICHP has trained 125 persons with the assistance of the HEART Trust/ NTA, and Manpower Maintenance Limited. Of this number, 70 have secured employment. Participants are also being trained in parenting, community health, reproductive health and conflict resolution.
Additionally, a number of persons in the targeted communities have taken up the challenge of facilitating the development in their communities by participating in leadership training.
“That means that we are training people to be trainers of other people in their communities and to manage the process of the transition from that disadvantaged situation to a more sustainable and more socio-economically viable situation,” Dr. Tafari-Ama told JIS News.
Another significant aspect of the skills training programme, is the remedial education or literacy-training component, which is being carried out in partnership with the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to personal development one of the advantages of this remedial training is that upon completion of this course, many of the participants find that there is greater access to other skills training programmes.
Senior Social Development Officer on the housing project, Grace Leslie explained that there were also other benefits. “One of the key components of the training programme is that it brings together at least four to five communities, persons who would not normally be integrated. Some of the communities where we have had residents train together so far include Hannah Town, Denham Town, Monaltrie, White Wing and Maxfield,” she informed.
In addition, the administrators of the ICHP have taken steps to ensure that the beneficiaries are able to handle the day-to-day running of the complexes.
“We recognise that persons need to be adequately prepared for this new living arrangement that is living in strata complexes. The demands would be different from much of what persons are accustomed to at this time, so they will need to develop the skills that are necessary to peacefully co-exist in the apartment complexes, and so Strata Management Training has been introduced,” said Mrs. Leslie.
The training, which is directed at every single household that will be occupying the new units, has already begun in Denham Town.
Mr. Anderson gave the assurance that, “the National Housing Trust (NHT) is committed to remaining with the community for approximately five years after the construction is complete, after we have put the beneficiaries into the houses, so that we will help them in the management of this strata company”.
In the coming months, a number of other training programmes such as welding and hospitality will be implemented to complement those already in the Social Development Programme.
The Inner City Housing Project (ICHP), was established some four years ago, as part of an urban renewal project to deal with the repair, refurbishment and upgrade of Downtown Kingston. The project involves housing around the Business Improvement District, which include Hannah Town, Denham Town, Matthews Lane, Majestic Gardens, Tivoli Gardens, Parade Gardens, Trench Town and Monaltrie.

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