Government of Jamaica puts focus on delivering housing solutions

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness addresses the handing over ceremony of the NHT Industry Cove Manor houses in Green Island, Hanover on Friday, August 12. [ Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson]

By Garwin Davis

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Prime minister, Andrew Holness says the National Housing Trust (NHT) is on track to make affordable homeownership a reality for more Jamaicans.

The prime minister, in his address at the handing over ceremony for 63 housing units at Industry Cove Manor, Green Island, Hanover on Friday, August 12, said job seekers to the western parishes have pushed the efforts of the government to provide many more houses. This effort had been slowed by Covid-19 he conceded.

Holness said the NHT, currently has two ongoing projects in the parish of Hanover, totaling 1,235 housing units.

“The plan was to distribute about 10,000 [islandwide] by the end of 2022, but our schedule has been impacted by COVID-19. Even though, between the NHT, the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ), the New Social Housing Programme and other programmes the government has undertaken, I am still confident we can get to that mark,” the prime minister pointed out. “There are many issues we must resolve, and I think we have resolved most of them. The one that we are working on now is to get the contractors in place.”

The prime minister said he is confident that once the contractors are in place…and are engaged properly, especially as it relates to standards, “then we can get the level of work and the quality of work that would be required [to achieve our goals],” he added.

Holness in the meantime revealed that, approximately 600 applications were submitted for the 63 units that were up for sale. He said this was a telling reminder that there are still many Jamaicans in pursuit of their dream of owning a home.

“When I come to Hanover the next time, I will be handing over 10 times more units than I am doing now and then we have another project with 135 housing solutions, which I’m hoping will be ready by 2023. So, there are huge projects here for this parish, which will have an impact on the number of houses that we have promised,” Holness added.

The government has been providing an average of about 6,000 units each year, three times the amount it once did, the PM said, and there is room for more private sector involvement.

“The NHT have stepped up to the plate and say we are going to do 43,000 houses in the next five years. That is really going to stretch them and is going to stretch the resources… We have some private contractors who are coming on board, but we just don’t have enough. The demand is good, and we have the facilities for mortgages.

What we don’t have on the construction side is enough contractors. It’s not just having the contractors, but it is having the contractors that can deliver the quality of work,” he further added.

The prime minister also noted that as it relates to the higher end of the market, an Act that governs gated communities will be implemented shortly, adding that it is in its final stage of drafting and is aimed at protecting property value for homeowners.

The 63 housing units in Industry Cove consists of 23 detached two-bedrooms and 40 two-bedroom townhouses on just over twelve acres of land.

The two-bedroom units were sold for $17.89 million while the townhouses were $18.72 million each. Forty-six of the 63 units were sold on the open market while 17 were allotted to civil servants and other selected groups.

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