By Nickieta Sterling
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Prime minister, Andrew Holness, on Friday, May 20, broke ground for construction of 144 detached two-bedroom housing solutions at Union Acres in Irwin, St James.
The housing development is being undertaken by the National Housing Trust (NHT) through a joint venture partnership with the Jamaica Civil Service Housing Company Limited and the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU).
The units are expected to be constructed on 20 acres of land and projected to be handed over in batches to civil servants commencing March 2023.
Amenities and infrastructure will include paved roads with curbs, street names and traffic signs, stormwater drainage system; centralised drainage system; centralised sewage collection and treatment systems, potable water distribution network with centralised storage and electrical distribution system and streetlights.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, prime minister Holness said the units, which will be “appropriately priced” are being constructed in response to the housing needs of public sector workers.
“From what I have seen, [they are] well designed two-bedroom units and, as is the mandate, every development must take into consideration the wellness of persons who live there, so you will have amenities that will allow you to be able to walk if you can’t run and run if you can,” he said.
The prime minister stated that the houses are being built to ensure durability and to withstand harsh weather phenomenon.
He also issued a strong directive to the NHT to provide infrastructure that is “also strong and resilient and will cater to the wellness of the people who live in the community.
“We have seen housing developments done but the true value of the development is not realised because the infrastructure is of substandard quality. Whether it is from the curb and sidewalks that are in place by the sewer system that breaks down right after the scheme is open or the road that the surface is scoured after the first shower of rain. We have given a directive to the NHT… it is not just the houses that have to be strong and resilient,” the prime minister stated.
He added that while the NHT continues to live up to its mandate of providing reasonably priced housing to Jamaicans, the entity is being operated as a business and not a “welfare institution” which is the belief of many Jamaicans.
“The NHT, by virtue of government policy, and certainty by the direction that I have given, the NHT has a duty to ensure that it can provide affordable housing. We also use the NHT to assist in social housing, but we don’t take the NHT’s funds, and apply it wholesale…” he said
“What we do is to ensure that the NHT is run properly… and then the dividends from that proper management, we decide how much of it we will use in social housing…” Holness outlined.
While acknowledging the housing demand across the island, Holness reiterated government’s intention to develop 70,000 new housing solutions by the end of 2025/2026 financial year.
Chairman of the NHT Lennox Channer said an additional 2,101 housing solutions are to be delivered in the parish of St James over the next two years.
These upcoming developments will be undertaken in Spot Valley, Adelphi, and Barrett Hall.