NHT to deliver 42,000 housing solutions in Jamaica

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National Housing Trust (NHT) Chairman, Lennox Channer (right), presents new Ruthven Towers homeowner, Kirk Frankson, with the keys to his apartment, during the official opening of the complex, situated at 1-3 Ruthven Road in Kingston on August 3. Ruthven Towers was developed by the NHT. [Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson]

By Douglas McIntosh

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The National Housing Trust (NHT) is working assiduously to fulfil its commitment to deliver approximately 42,000 of the 70,000 housing solutions being targeted for development by the government.

Prime minister, Andrew Holness, who has portfolio responsibility for the NHT, says based on handovers he has done, “they would have already delivered over 1,000 houses; [that is] keys handed over [to new homeowners]. But they have in ground a significant number; I would say… about 10,000. So, they are working,” Holness informed, speaking during the recent official opening and handover of keys for the NHT’s Ruthven Towers apartment complex in Kingston.

Holness said consequent on the demand for housing, the NHT was given a “very simple” policy directive to “build house” and increase its output of affordable solutions year on year.

“So, for the first four years of this Administration, the NHT more than doubled… in fact… more than tripled… the number of housing solutions that they brought to market,” he advised, describing this outturn as “significant”.

The prime minister said 70,000 houses are being targeted because “we believe that if we can get [this number] onto the market, it will ease the demands. It will slow down the decades of unabated irregular and illegal settlement of land. It will slow down the chaotic development of communities across Jamaica, which just spring up overnight and then place a demand on government to retroactively catch up with infrastructure, security, health, and education,” the prime minister added.

Holness pointed out, however, that the COVID-19 pandemic “had an impact on our ability to move these projects along very quickly.”

He said this had manifested in terms of the disruption of supply chains, the increased cost of materials and “an impending recession that could be hitting many of the developed countries, and the impact that could have on investor decisions locally.”

“So, the pandemic and the aftereffects are having an impact on our ability to deliver these houses within the time specified. But, nevertheless, the NHT, I can tell you, is working assiduously,” the prime minister assured, also gave an undertaking that the debate on the NHT’s Strategic Review report, which was tabled in parliament will proceed.

He said the review, on which the NHT worked with one of Jamaica’s “strongest” analytical firms, examined the Trust’s assets and the demand against those, as well as individuals’ aspirations for home ownership, “and how we can use those assets in different ways to achieve the aspirations of owning your home without imperiling the organisation.”

“So that report, I agree, is due for a debate, because there are some policy decisions… about the NHT… that, while [they are] statutorily in the hands of the prime mister to make… require parliamentary debate. [They] require a kind of national direction as to how we will use the NHT,” Holness indicated, while the parliamentary agenda has been very hectic, debate on the review “is something that we have committed to adding that “it will be done.”

Meanwhile, NHT chairman, Lennox Channer, said the entity’s four-year housing programme, which was completed in March 2021, saw the start of construction on over 23,000 housing solutions island wide. He advised that work over the period would result in the handover of another three sets of housing solutions to beneficiaries during August.

“A look at these upcoming housing developments will show a mix of housing solutions at different price points, addressing the housing needs of contributors at various income levels,” Channer added.

Phase one of the eight-storey Ruthven Towers apartment complex, located at 1-3 Ruthven Road in Kingston, comprises 86 units, of which 72 are one-bedroom and 14 are two-bedroom houses.

Features of the development include underground and roof potable water storage tanks; a stormwater drainage system; sewage collection/conveyance system connected to the National Water Commission’s (NWC) main; laundry areas; electronic controlled access and egress barriers via intercom system (swipe card); elevators; a Strata manager’s office; perimeter fencing; guardhouse at the main entrance; and a standby generator for common areas lighting and elevators.

Prime minister Holness advised that the NHT will be proceeding with phase two of the Ruthven Towers development, which will comprise approximately 234 apartments.

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