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KINGSTON – Twenty-seven residents of Portmore Gardens, St. Catherine, on March 30 became proud landowners, when they were issued with certificates of title to the property they now occupy.

The titles, which were handed out at a ceremony held at the Church of God of Prophecy in the community, were prepared by the Ministry of Water and Housing in keeping with Government’s efforts to reduce the level of informal settlements in the community, by formalising land ownership.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, in his remarks at the function, said  with the titles in hand, residents can now build sustainable communities, which will reduce the possibility of urban decay in Portmore.

“Once…you have your title, the chances are you will not only improve on your situation there, but you ensure there is continuity on the family build-up and you will not have the kind of abandonment (that can) lead to the kind of urban decay and the overtaking of the community by crime and violence in the long term,” he said.

Giving an update on the move to formalise settlement in Portmore Gardens, Dr. Chang informed that sale agreements are in place for all 60 lots, currently occupied by residents with 31 transfers completed and the other 29 in progress.

“There are less than a dozen (persons), who have not completed their agreement, but we are expecting to have discussions and settle them this year,” Minister Chang noted, adding that two titles have already been handed out.

He said he has spoken with the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ), which has agreed to fix roads in the area very early in the new financial year, while green space is to be reserved for community activities.

The seven-acre property was acquired by the Government in 2003 after being approached by the Portmore Gardens Citizens’ Association, a registered provident society, for assistance with purchasing the land.  Residents had been sold several parcels of land by the previous owners, who were unable to provide titles.

The Housing Ministry assisted in the negotiation of the property for a sum of $5,416,000 and facilitated its acquisition by the provident society by declaring the property under the Housing Act, to facilitate sub-division and generation of titles. The Ministry also advanced the legal and titling costs.

Additionally, infrastructure works were installed with funds provided by the United Nations Developemnet Programme/Local Initiative Facility for the (Urban) Development (UNDP/LIFE).

The Association has an obligation to collect from its members, the balance of the purchase price to allow the Ministry to complete the payment. A total of $5,030,000 has been collected by the provident society to date, with an outstanding sum of $386,000.

 

By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter