JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Jubilee ‘50 for 50’ Housing Initiative was instituted as part of the Housing Ministry’s efforts to celebrate Jamaica50
  • Beneficiaries are primary account holders, who are 50 years or older
  • A pivotal push of various administrations over these last 50 years is to empower the Jamaican people

Beneficiaries under the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing’s Jubilee ‘50 for 50’ Housing Initiative, are giving thanks that they are now mortgage-free.

For Carleen Barrett of St. Catherine, it is as if a huge weight has been lifted from her shoulders. Mrs. Barrett tells JIS News that she cried when she heard that she was one of 50 persons to benefit under the initiative that is writing off the mortgage of 50 clients of the Ministry.

She, along with some 46 other persons received their certificate of title at a special ceremony on July 30 at the Knutsford Court hotel in New Kingston.

Mrs. Barrett explains that earlier this year she was in arrears and was given 30 days notice to get off the land. She says her daughter managed to pay $150,000 in January on the property. Three months later, she received a call that the remaining balance was being reduced by $50,000.  She informs that her daughter journeyed from Hanover to Kingston to pay the remainder. Unfortunately, her only child died in late May before she could see her mother receive the land title.

“I was just crying that she should be here but I know that her spirit is here,” Mrs. Barrett says.

“I don’t have to pay anything. I feel so good I thank the Lord and I thank all who are here and may God bless them. Whatever my daughter did for me it is through the Lord and I have to thank him,” she says.

Ann-Marie Clarke, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, says it is a joyous occasion for them to be finally getting their official, legal claim to a piece of Jamaica.

“This will empower us economically in that we can now access loans either for ourselves to start small businesses or further the education of our children. It will also empower us in that it will help to improve our self-worth and self-esteem to have something in hand to say that we actually own a piece of property in Jamaica, we are not just here,” she says.

Michelin Dias of Mount Edgecombe, St. Ann, is equally happy. “I feel a bigger woman now to own my own title, my own piece of earth that I can use it to help school my grandchildren and my last son, who is going to college,” Ms. Dias says, as she offered thanks on behalf of the people of the community.

Joseph Lloyd, also of Mt. Edgecombe, expressed delight at receiving his title. “I waited so long for this title and now that I get it I am so delighted. My immediate plan is to set the future for my youths,” he notes.

Ulalee Whitney of Nannyville Gardens, Kingston, informs that she struggled to pay for her land and was feeling wonderful now that she has her title. While she has no immediate plans for the money saved from the debt forgiveness, she says her children might have plans for the title.

The Jubilee ‘50 for 50’ Housing Initiative was instituted as part of the Housing Ministry’s efforts to celebrate Jamaica’s 50 years of political independence.

Beneficiaries are primary account holders, who are 50 years or older. Other criteria included: account balance of less than $50,000; the account should not be inactive for more than 50 weeks; and having a Registered Certificate of Title for the property. Some 47 persons from across the island benefitted from the initiative.

Minister without Portfolio with responsibility for Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, says that a pivotal push of various administrations over these last 50 years is to empower the Jamaican people, particularly through social provisions.

“It’s a drive this administration, led by Prime Minister Simpson-Miller, has been keen on not just maintaining, but bolstering. I know she has made it clear on several occasions that the social welfare of the people must be taken into consideration in all our endeavours.  This, of course, we do in a pragmatic and fiscally responsible manner,” he says.

He notes that on a yearly basis, the Ministry undertakes several programmes that result in many benefitting from increased access to shelter solutions, however, it had to do “something extraordinary” during Jamaica’s Jubilee year.

The Minister likened the certificate of title to a visa. “Much like the visa, a title is a privilege to have, a title allows you access to several economic ‘gateways’ and even if you don’t use your title, it’s always good to tell others you have one. There’s nothing like declaring that the car, the house and the land all belong to you. There’s a major difference however between the two documents. While the visa comes with expiry dates ranging from a few months to 10 years, your title is yours for as long as you want,” he points out.

Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, who has portfolio responsibility for ‘Jamaica 50’ projects, praised the initiative.

She points out that the ceremony is happening at a special time in the country’s  history, just days before the country begins celebrating 175 years of full freedom and 75 years of the birth of the labour movement and workers rights.

She notes that the journey has not been easy and “sometimes those of us who were born after forget the immense sacrifice that those before us had made towards our political independence, our freedom, our nationhood and our identity as a people.”

Ms. Hanna adds that celebrating 50 years of political independence means that we are free as a people to choose our destinies “and a part of that destiny is owning a part of this rock.”