Jamaica to introduce new housing policy

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Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Pearnel Charles Jr (right), and General Manager of the Jamaica Mortgage Bank, Courtney Wynter, (March 31). [Photo: Michael Sloley]

By Ainsworth Morris

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – Minister of housing, urban renewal, environment and climate change, Pearnel Charles Jr., says the new comprehensive National Housing Policy, which will address Jamaica’s complex housing challenges, will soon be placed before parliament. The National Housing Policy was tabled in parliament as a Green Paper in 2019.

Approval of this policy will mark the adoption of the first-ever comprehensive Housing Policy to govern the housing sector in the history of Jamaica.

Minister Charles Jr., gave this update during his contribution to the 2021/22 sectoral debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 4.

“For the first time, we will be able to say in this parliament that we have a comprehensive national housing policy that can address our complex housing challenges. This will be coupled with the necessary regulatory guidelines and operational procedures to introduce innovation and efficiency in our building designs and systems as we move towards sustainability,” the minister said.

“For too many Jamaicans, the safe, legal [and] affordable solutions that we seek are out of reach. As a government, we have a responsibility and we are focused on ensuring that we design the framework to provide the opportunities for our people to access affordable housing,” he added.

The minister reiterated that the Draft National Housing Policy being developed by chief technical director, Doreen Prendergast and her team, specifically seeks to address the issues relating to access to finance, improving the supply of housing options and enhancing affordability, while integrating climate resilience and sustainable building practices in how Jamaicans design and construct houses.

“We are moving quickly to have this policy tabled as a White Paper before the end of this fiscal year. We are engaging all of Jamaica in this conversation. Last month, the ministry hosted a series of consultations under the theme ‘Let’s Talk Housing’. We engaged various stakeholders, including youth leaders, developers and mortgage institutions. The draft policy will include the information and recommendations from those consultations,” he pointed out.

Through the leadership of prime minister, Andrew Holness, the government has built the most housing solutions in any term, with more than 20,000 solutions.

The minister said the ministry will play a critical role in achieving the ambitious target of 70,000 houses. To this end, within the next five years, the National Housing Trust and the Housing Agency of Jamaica have committed to 43,000 houses and 14,000 housing starts, respectively.

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