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Work on Jamaica’s Housing Policy is expected to be completed by May, Water and Housing Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, has said.
He said that perusal of the initial policy draft showed that “some good work had been done on it,” even though the preparatory process was delayed for a year. “After discussions with the Ministry, the consultants we engaged approached it with the kind of energy we required, and we have seen some good work coming out of it,” he stated.
Dr. Chang, who was addressing a Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB) housing development seminar today (March 17) at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, said that implementation of the policy would likely result in “radical changes and approaches” to housing, which, he advised, would be discussed with the relevant stakeholders and agencies in due course.
He pointed to the need for affordable housing solutions, especially for those in the low income category.
“Some of what we have to do is establish some minimum housing standards.which really require providing a serviced lot, essentially, with a core housing unit, which is designed to encourage what is termed. progressive housing development, which is what (informal settlers) do really. They build a one-bedroom and many of them, over a number of years, successfully build nice homes,” Dr. Chang noted.
The Ministry staged a series of private and public consultations and fora on the policy, resulting in the preparation of a draft by consultants from the University of the West Indies (UWI), and the University of Technology (UTech), which outlines critical strategies for the provision of housing solutions.
The draft was reviewed by a technical committee comprising representatives of the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ), National Housing Trust (NHT), Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), and JMB.
The reviews, which were conducted by an intra-Ministerial committee, yielded several recommendations, which were forwarded to the experts for inclusion in a revised draft, which was submitted to the Ministry. The provisions of that document were subject of further reviews as well as discussion.
Focus is being placed on key factors such as: demographics; infrastructure; tenure, need, and financing; income distribution and affordability; land availability; and community participation.
The JMB seminar, which was attended by a wide cross section of mortgage and housing solution providers and developers, was aimed at facilitating dialogue among private and public sector stakeholders, in a bid to enhance access to housing in Jamaica.