JIS News

Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, is warning that he will use the full powers of the Ministry, to limit and ameliorate the squatter problem in Jamaica.
He was speaking at a meeting of the Squatter Management Unit (SMU), at the Ministry of Water and Housing in New Kingston, recently.
“We really don’t have much of a legislative framework in which to operate as a Squatter Management Unit, if we are going to cauterise the problem,” he conceded.
“Most of the provisions to deal with squatting revolve around Local Government and the local planning authority declaring the occupation of a property illegal, then getting the occupants out and the buildings demolished. This is a long process,” Dr. Chang explained.
The Minister drew attention to a few well known properties in the Corporate Area, which had been declared illegal for many years, and are still standing and being occupied illegally.
The SMU was transferred to the Ministry of Water and Housing in October 2007, and given the role of co-ordinating Government’s response to squatting islandwide and promoting planned and sustainable development of land resources.
Objectives of the SMU include: decreasing the rapid growth of illegal and hazardous settlements across the island; identifying and selecting squatter sites for regularisation and relocation; assisting institutions in the development of low income settlements, by identifying suitable sites; and encouraging positive participation of members of the community in community development.
The current functions of the SMU include: the formulation of a policy for the management of squatter settlements, implementing the guidelines for dealing with informal settlers, and identifying and selecting squatter sites for regularisation, relocation and/or eviction.