JIS News

The first set of completed housing units under the Inner City Housing Project will be available for occupation in February 2005.
Director of the Inner City Housing Project, Maurice Anderson, made this disclosure at a recent JIS Think Tank.
The Inner City Housing Project (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.
ASHTROM Building Systems, the main contractor on the housing project, which has been given a contract to design and construct 3000 of the units, has already started work in Denham Town, Trench Town and on Spanish Town Road.
In Denham Town, there are 94 units under construction and these should be completed by February 2005. In Trench Town, the project is constructing 252 units and 186 units at 88-100 Spanish Town Road. The Trench Town and Spanish Town Road units will be completed in May and August 2005 respectively.
Social Development Manager of the ICHP, Dr. Imani Tafari-Ama informed that beneficiaries of the housing units would be asked to pay a mortgage, and that the houses will cost $1 million on average.
“One of the pre-requisites for the project is that you register with the National Housing Trust (NHT) and be paying contributions at least a year before you actually move in,” she said.
The monthly mortgage payment will be approximately $4,000. While persons are not obliged to pay a deposit, making a deposit on the unit of their choice will redound to their benefit, the Social Development Manager pointed out.
“There are some people who will not be able to pay because of their employment status and in those cases we will arrange for them to have a balloon mortgage, which means that they pay a minimum amount, like a rental, and if at the end of their life, they have not paid off the mortgage arrears, then the house will remain with the Trust and be available for another beneficiary,” she explained.
“It also means that if at the end of that period of their life, their children would like to convert that arrangement into a mortgage arrangement, they are free to do so,” Dr. Tafari-Ama added.
Under the development project, run-down and makeshift houses are to be replaced by medium-rise apartment blocks.
The estimated cost of the ICHP is J$5 billion. This includes an estimated J$3 billion for the construction of the housing units themselves, J$1.5 billion for infrastructure development, and J$500 million for the upgrading of some structures.
Meanwhile, Mr. Anderson informed that, “We have as partners on the project, on the refurbishing component, the National Housing Development Corporation. The National Housing Trust is managing the construction component of the project”.
Also included in the project is the provision of social infrastructure where necessary. These include community centres, day care centres, sports areas and courts, children’s play areas, or refurbishment and upgrading of existing infrastructure.
The level of refurbishing work being undertaken by the ICHP is confined to external works on Government constructed four-storey, multi-apartment buildings in areas such as Tivoli Gardens, Tavares Gardens, and Wilton Gardens. These works include painting, and repairing damaged windows and doors among other things. Thus far, work has been carried out in Denham Town, Tivoli and Majestic Gardens and a number of other areas around the Business Improvement District.