Mr. Speaker, my presentation this afternoon, to this Honourable House, is set within the context of the challenges being faced within the shelter sector and the policies and programmes that this Government is pursuing or is seeking to pursue to bring about meaningful improvements.

Mr. Speaker, a new study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) entitled "Room for Development: Housing Markets in Latin America and the Caribbean" is indicating that, one in three families in Latin America and the Caribbean, or 59 million people, currently live in dwellings that are either unsuitable for habitation or are built with poor materials and lack basic infrastructure services.

Data as recorded in the Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica (ESSJ) on the output of Jamaica’s formal housing sector has indicated Mr. Speaker, that an average of Three Thousand Six Hundred and Nine (3609) solutions were built annually between 2006 and 2011. According to the Draft National Housing Policy (2011), this recorded output compared with estimated need implies a sustained annual deficit of Nine Thousand (9,000) to Fifteen Thousand (15000) housing units. The Draft Policy further implies that there is a strong correlation between the deficit in the formal sector and the increase of squatter housing over the corresponding period.

It is therefore imperative, Mr. Speaker that a range of options be pursued amongst them attracting private sector investments, so as to expand the stock of affordable housing and improve the existing ones. As a Government, we must boost investment in key infrastructure and improve regulation to increase the provision of affordable serviced land with proper security of tenure for low-income households.

Critical to the mix, Mr. Speaker, is the need to enact legislation that will allow for greater provision of mortgage financing for low-income households. This will require changing some of our archaic laws to address issues pertaining to land titling and mortgage financing, as well as the restructuring of some of our public agencies to improve their efficiency in meeting the needs particularly of the poor.

Concomitantly, Mr. Speaker we must develop more comprehensive property registries; facilitate and implement incentives for mixed land development; utilize more efficient and cost cutting building techniques and; explore options that foster the development of a rental market that allows for the creation of private enterprises that specialize in the provision of rental units for the low-income population. Of course, Mr. Speaker all these measures must be undergirded by housing policies that offer households greater flexibility to meet their housing needs.

Mr. Speaker, I now wish to speak specifically to some of the initiatives that we will be undertaking as a Government to increase the supply of housing solutions available on the market.

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