JIS News

The National Housing Trust (NHT) will be embarking on a public education programme to sensitise Jamaicans on the new initiatives being pursued by the Trust.
On Tuesday (April 20), Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding announced several new strategies to make it more affordable for Jamaicans to own a home, including the one per cent reduction in interest rates paid to the Trust across all bands.
“They (initiatives) will provide a considerable challenge for the management and staff of the NHT. We will have to embark on educational programmes and we will have to exercise even better customer service than we have exercised in the past and that is our focus for the future,” Board Chairman of the NHT, Mr. Howard Mitchell, has said.
Mr. Mitchell, who was speaking at the weekly post Cabinet press briefing, held on April 21, at Jamaica House, also noted that the NHT must transform to meet the future needs of the public.
“We have challenges and the cost of housing is too high. We have 900,000 people who live in squalor and we have infrastructural costs that are too high. That doesn’t make any sense, so we have to change the way that we think about housing,” Mr. Mitchell said.
He added that the NHT is encouraging the reduction in the price of a house by offering private developers three per cent interest on loans to build houses at a cost of $5 million or less.
“We have to show the private sector that there is some value in getting into low income housing development. The Trust needs to be more of a leader in pulling the sector. If you look at the entire asset base of the Trust, $132 billion, we currently have about 90 per cent invested in housing. But, if you took the whole thing, you still would not solve the housing problem in Jamaica,” Mr. Mitchell said.
It was also noted that the NHT is currently in negotiations with Ashtrom Building Systems to finalise an agreement for the completion of housing units in Majestic Gardens, under the Inner City Housing Project (ICHP).
The ICHP, which was established some four years ago by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), is part of an urban renewal project, aimed at addressing the repair, refurbishment and upgrading of downtown Kingston.
The project’s mandate is to construct 5,000 units in and around the Business Improvement District, which spans Oxford Street in the West to Hanover Street in the East, and from the Harbour in the South to East Queen Street in the North. The areas involved in the project include Hannah Town, Denham Town, Matthews Lane, Majestic Gardens, Tivoli Gardens, Parade Gardens, White Wing, Swallowfield, Trench Town, and Monaltrie.