- The NHT will be taking a new approach to its inner-city housing programme in 2014.
- Several agencies and some international bodies, are partnering with the NHT to restart community development programmes.
- The NHT Chairman also emphasised the need for inner-city infrastructural development like the Majesty Gardens project.
Chairman of the National Housing Trust (NHT), Hon. Easton Douglas, says the agency will be taking a new approach to its inner-city housing programme in 2014.
“The economic times are challenging and like all other institutions, we have had to take a bold new approach to the work that we do and that includes our approach to inner-city housing,” Mr. Douglas said.
He was addressing the handing over ceremony of 48 units in Phase 1 of the Majesty Gardens Housing Development in South Western St. Andrew, on December 18.
Mr. Douglas informed that several agencies, such as the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Social Development Commission (SDC), and some international bodies, are partnering with the NHT to restart community development programmes, which will replace the inner-city housing programme.
“Going forward, cost and affordability will be even greater watchwords as we collaborate with the other agencies to make Majesty Gardens the subject of a comprehensive redevelopment programme,” he said.
Mr. Douglas pointed out that critical to this redevelopment is a redesign of the housing structures to make them more cost effective to build, and therefore more affordable. “At no time do we want our mortgagors to choose between their meal and a mortgage payment or their children’s books and the payment of their loans,” he argued.
The Chairman told the residents that Phase 1 of the development is not the end, noting that the real project will start when they move into their new homes and begin to make decisions about how to manage the complex, so that it remains a beacon for all to see.
“We want to see you set up strong management structures to ensure that the quality of life here remains high. We want to see positive leaders assert themselves here and throughout the rest of the community. The real project begins when you start paying your mortgage on time all the time,” Mr. Douglas said.
The NHT Chairman also emphasised the need for inner-city infrastructural development like the Majesty Gardens project, noting that Kingston is a very small place and it cannot be good to have people living in sections of the city in conditions that are less than desirable. He pointed out that the implications for public health, safety and quality of life are huge.
He noted that since Independence, Jamaica has made tremendous strides in managing public health, eliminating a number of diseases associated with poor living conditions. However, the country cannot afford to relax its vigilant stance, he emphasized.
The Majesty Gardens housing project is part of an urban renewal initiative which aims to transform blighted communities into ‘winner cities’. Phase 1 of the development consists of 48 strata units, 16 three bedrooms and 32 two bedrooms, which were completed in July at a cost of $172 million.
Forty three year-old Patricia Francis expressed excitement at being a beneficiary of one of the units. “I really wanted somewhere to live because I have kids. Getting this house with everything, kitchen and bathroom under one roof, is really wonderful. I am really happy that a project like this has come to Majesty Gardens. You have people here who have been working for years and could not afford a house until now,” she said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by 35 year-old Melissa Patterson Suckram, who praised God, her Member of Parliament, Councillor and the NHT for her blessing in getting one of the units. “I feel so good. God has provided these persons to work with us for our benefit,” she expressed.
In the meantime, Acting Managing Director, NHT, Martin Miller, said experience has shown that when persons become home owners their lives improve. He pointed out that new opportunities for greater economic wellbeing are created, and a new sense of security developed that can only be derived from having “your own roof over your head”.
“When we hand over these units today, we will be handing over more than four walls. What we will be doing is opening doors to new opportunities that will make Majesty Gardens truly majestic,” Mr. Miller said.